Lakers: Rich Paul Sets Record Straight on Bronny James Draft Rumors

Bronny James, Los Angeles Lakers

Getty Bronny James #6 of the USC Trojans.

The possibility that Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James could team up with his son, Bronny James, as soon as next season has taken a back seat in the rumor mill.

There are questions about whether or not the younger James would even be drafted amid a modest freshman season. ESPN projected him to return to USC for another season and then enter the 2025 draft.

The elder James’ agent and Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul decided to clear up some details.

“I don’t value a young player getting into the lottery as much as I do getting him on the right team in the right developmental situation,” Paul said, per ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski on March 2.

Wojnarowski reports that Bronny James will “weigh” his decision to enter the 2024 draft depending on “specific team interest”.

One of those teams could be the Lakers.

“Not only are rival executives increasingly convinced that James might want out, but they’re also focused on the Bronny James factor, which continues to loom large,” The Athletic’s Sam Amick, Anthony Slater, and Jovan Buha wrote on February 14. “ The Lakers, per the high-ranking team source, are also willing to explore the notion of adding Bronny James next season.”

James has made no secret about his desire to play alongside Bronny and Bryce James before his career is over.

Paul asserts LeBron James isn’t pushing that on his son, either.

“[LeBron would be] head over heels excited if that were to happen organically,” Paul said, per Wojnarowski. “LeBron wants Bronny to be his own man.”

Bronny James Losing Playing Time

The younger James was averaging 5.3 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 2.4 assists this season going into the Trojan’s game against Washington on March 2. But he has been unable to secure consistent playing time following his minutes restriction earlier in the season.

He was also shooting 37.4% from the floor and 27.5% from beyond the arc on a USC squad that is 12-17  and at the bottom of the Pac-12 standings this season.

He finished with three rebounds and two assists in 14 minutes versus the Huskies.

James also saw just 14 minutes in the contest, his fourth straight outing with less than 20 minutes on the floor. He has failed to force Head Coach Andy Enfield’s hand, scoring double-digit points in just two of his nine appearances with 20-plus minutes this season.

LeBron James Surpasses 40,000 Points in Lakers Loss

Wojnarowski’s report came just ahead of LeBron James’ latest feat: 40,000 career points, a mark which took him until the second quarter in the loss to the Denver Nuggets to finally surpass.

James got to celebrate the accomplishment in-game. But he spoke candidly about the loss.

The Lakers are 6-3 since the All-Star break, even after their strong showing in February going 9-3. 20 games remain on the Lakers’ regular-season slate. They still have a 5.5-game lead over the Utah Jazz for 10th place in the West and the final spot in the Play-In Tournament.

And they are just one half-game back of the Golden State Warriors for ninth place.

There is time to figure a lot of things out. But they must do it fast or be guaranteed their entire postseason experience will come on the road.