Bronny James declares for NBA Draft; what it means for LeBron and the Lakers

Robert Edwards-USA TODAY Sports

The offseason has become more interesting as Bronny James declares for the NBA Draft. James, 19, is also entering the NCAA transfer portal, allowing him to gauge the interest of NBA teams and could go back to college if need be, per Shams Charania. 

Bronny averaged 5/3/2 on 37/27/68 shooting splits. He has struggled to find consistency on the offensive end of the floor but has thrived as a defender.

This is backed up by stats: His defensive box plus-minus is +2.1, while his offensive box plus-minus is -1.4.

Bronny's point-of-attack defense may lead a team to draft him in 2024. The other reason for a team to draft him this year is that his dad, LeBron James, could enter free agency if he doesn’t opt into his player option. LeBron could opt to sign with whatever team drafts Bronny to play with his son.

With that in mind, Rob Pelinka and the Lakers front office will have some tough decisions to make. Let’s break down the scenarios that could happen.

Lakers draft Bronny

Pelinka could opt to draft Bronny to appease LeBron and re-sign him to finish his career with the franchise. 

The Purple and Gold will likely have their first and second-round picks in the draft this season. The New Orleans Pelicans have the rights to LA’s 2024 first-round pick, but they are likely to defer it to 2025 due to the weak draft class this year.

This would give Pelinka a chance to draft Bronny, almost solidifying that LeBron would re-sign for the final years of his career.

Lakers re-sign LeBron without drafting Bronny

Another option is for Pelinka to extend LeBron on a new contract without drafting Bronny, whether that means another team drafts him or he goes back to college. 

If he goes back to college, that makes this process easier, as it’s more likely for LeBron to re-sign.

However, if Bronny is drafted elsewhere, it will be difficult to convince LeBron to re-sign.

The easiest way to re-sign LeBron despite not drafting Bronny would be to go on a deep playoff run to end this season, proving that if he wants to compete for another title, staying with the Lakers is the best option.

LeBron leaves to join Bronny; Lakers gain cap flexibility

The last possibility is that LA doesn’t draft Bronny, and LeBron leaves to join him elsewhere. In that scenario, Anthony Davis becomes the only superstar on the roster, but they would have money to spend in free agency. 

That scenario would give the front office the most options but is also the most unknown, as you’d be going from a solidified contender to a solid team missing another star.

The Lakers are having a strong end to the season. They are 44-33 and only 1.5 games back of the sixth seed in the West. They have a lot of momentum heading into the postseason, which could help them go on a deep run. 

The offseason will commence following the playoffs, and it’s uncertain territory. Bronny's declaration for the draft could make re-signing LeBron much more complicated.

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