Lakers’ Reported Plan for No. 17 Pick Could Impact LeBron James’ Decision

Lakers star LeBron James cheers his son Bronny James

Getty LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers shouts to his son, Bronny James #6 of the USC Trojans, during Bronny's game against the California Golden Bears.

The Los Angeles Lakers are aggressively shopping the No. 17 pick in this year’s NBA Draft, according to The Athletic’s Jovan Buha, as part of their grand plan to secure LeBron James‘ long-term commitment and surround him with talent in his remaining years in the NBA.

“The Lakers are going to look to move that No. 17 pick on draft night,” Buha said on “Buha’s Block” on May 10. It will be the first time that they could use all three of their tradable first-round picks and it’s a prime opportunity for them to potentially get either a third star or to improve the roster by attaching one, two, or three of those picks alongside players under contract to upgrade the starting lineup or the bench.”

The Lakers’ motivation to make a move sooner rather than later stems from the fact that this year’s NBA Draft is on June 26-27 just before the June 29 deadline for James to pick up or decline his $51.4 million player option.

“LeBron’s future will I think in part be determined by what the Lakers do around the draft and how aggressive they are and what upgrades they can make,” Buha said.

The Lakers could go different directions, according to Buha, from a significant trade for stars like Trae Young or Donovan Mitchell or Dejounte Murray or whether it’s a smaller move and again bringing in a 3-and-D wing or another big man.

LeBron James Intends to Retire as a Laker

Buha said James and the Lakers have a mutual interest in continuing their partnership. But whether that would be short or longer-term would depend on the team’s moves from their next coaching hire to their draft day plans.

“To be clear, from everything we’ve reported at The Athletic and everything I’ve heard, the Lakers are willing to give LeBron whatever type of contract he wants and he intends to stay and retire as a Laker.

So, I do think they are going to figure things out and there will be a contract in some form, be it him opting in and extending later or just him simply re-signing. But I think a part of that will be the coaching search and how that plays out as well as what upgrades the Lakers can make to this roster to make this team more competitive next season.”

Father-and-Son in L.A.?

Despite actively shopping their first-round pick, the Lakers are planning to use their second-round pick on Bronny James in the NBA Draft to realize his father’s dream to play with him.

“From everything I hear, [LeBron] wants to play up to two more NBA seasons and the assumption around the league, and obviously, the Lakers want to bring him back,” The Athletic’s Shams Charania said on “The Pat McAfee Show” on May 10. And the Lakers want to be in a position where it is drafting Bronny in the second round. They do have interest in bringing Bronny James in as a draft pick.”

The Lakers own the 55th pick in the second round.