Could LeBron Accidentally Tank Bronny James’ NBA Draft Dreams?

Bronny James

Getty Bronny James on the court during his USC days.

The NBA’s first on-court father-son duo might have to wait, as it appears LeBron James’ decision-making process will not include the option of leaving the Los Angeles Lakers to join whoever drafts Bronny James.

The Athletic’s Shams Charania told Kay Adams on the May 17 episode of “Up & Adams” that, while teams will likely try to pry LeBron away from the Lakers by drafting Bronny, LeBron’s answer to their offer would be “no, as of right now.”

LeBron’s statement could have some serious unintended consequences, as murmurs about Bronny’s NBA potential have been swirling. While Bronny has continued to say he wants to make a name for himself (and good on him for that), the fact that he’s LeBron’s son was almost a golden ticket to an NBA team.

LeBron’s Dream, Though Not Compulsory

Since it started to become a possibility that Bronny would develop as an NBA prospect, LeBron has stuck with the idea that playing alongside his son would be more of a dream as opposed to something he expected to happen.

ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reported LeBron saying in 2023, “I’ve done what I’ve had to do in this league, and my son is going to take his journey. And whatever his journey, however his journey lays out, he’s going to do what’s best for him. And as his dad, and his mom, Savannah, and his brother and sister, we’re going to support him in whatever he decides to do.

“So, just because that’s my aspiration or my goal, doesn’t mean it’s his. And I’m absolutely OK with that.”

And now, it appears LeBron is expected to stay in Los Angeles. Jovan Buha reported about LeBron’s return to the Lakers on his YouTube show:

“All indications are LeBron James and the Lakers are headed toward him either resigning or opting in and extending. It’s just a matter of which path he prefers and the contract length that he will be signing for. And if he wants that no trade clause, in which case he would opt out and resign, or if he wants a little bit more money, in which case he would opt in and then extend in August.”

Consider What Bronny James Wants

Throughout all of this, there has been a lot of assuming that Bronny would benefit from and would enjoy playing alongside his father. There’s the obvious mentoring on the road and helping him acclimate to the NBA lifestyle, but with that comes remarkable pressure.

During a fairly pedestrian performance at the 2024 NBA Draft Combine, Bronny noted the constant connection between himself and his father, saying “My dream has always just been to put my name out, make a name for myself and get to the NBA. Everything that follows my dad, people just try to link me with that and all the greatness that he’s achieved. I haven’t done anything yet, so I feel like there needs to be that divide between Bronny and LeBron.”

Is Bronny James Even an NBA Talent?

If Bronny’s perceived potential were higher, none of this would matter. A team would take a flier on him in the second round and he’d be able to either quietly develop or move on to another league.

The elephant in the room and the reason that LeBron’s comments could hurt so much is that Bronny is largely being looked at as not ready for the NBA and only being talked about because of his last name. Bill Reiter of CBS Sports wrote:

“The game reflected that severe uncertainty I’ve heard from several scouts and NBA executives who filed through L.A. this past college hoops season to watch Bronny during his time at USC. That he’s not good enough, yet. That he needs a year or two more in college to give him a real shot at NBA success.” Reiter would continue that “were it not for his last name…(Bronny) wouldn’t even be a point of conversation, let alone a potential draft pick.”

Much has been said about the Lakers using a second-round pick (No. 55) to appease LeBron, with those rumors being intensified by Bronny’s visit with Lakers brass.

However, suppose they were operating under the assumption that they needed help to convince LeBron to stay, and now that’s no longer an issue, combined with the notion that Bronny isn’t ready. In that case, we might not see Bronny in an NBA jersey at all, much less the same one as his father.

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