How LeBron James playing alongside Bronny connects with Lakers extension

Let’s begin with a trivia query, and you will not even have to attend till the top of this column for the reply.

What is the standing of the Los Angeles Lakers’ first-round decide in 2024?

The reply: It belongs to the New Orleans Pelicans, until the Pels defer the decide till 2025.

What a pleasant little twist in making an attempt to determine what LeBron James does with the contract extension the Lakers are more likely to provide him Thursday.

LeBron, who shall be 38 in December, is severe about wanting to complete his profession playing on the identical workforce as his eldest son. Bronny James shall be a senior in highschool this yr and, by NBA guidelines, shall be eligible for the draft in 2024.

But the Lakers haven’t got a first-round decide in that draft proper now, until the Pelicans OK it. Who would make that call? New Orleans vice chairman David Griffin, who’s near and received a championship with LeBron when the 2 labored collectively in Cleveland.

LeBron’s cleanest path to playing with Bronny is that if Griffin offers the Lakers again their decide.

On Thursday, James turns into eligible for a two-year, roughly $98 million extension from the Lakers. If he accepts it, or even when he asks for (and will get) a one-year, $47 million extension, a lot of the drama goes away. There shall be no questions surrounding his future to sully his possible passing of Lakers nice Kareem Abdul-Jabbar because the NBA’s all-time main scorer this season.

But there’s a minimum of some query as to what LeBron will do, as a result of the Lakers’ roster doesn’t look like close to title rivalry. James has, up to now, used this precise state of affairs to use stress (to Griffin and the Cavs, really) on his present workforce to constantly enhance the roster – by agreeing solely to signal short-term offers.

Parsing the probability of an Anthony Davis rebound or a Russell Westbrook-for-Kyrie Irving flip is for one more story. For now, if LeBron desires to attempt to tie Michael Jordan’s six championships, there’s a case to be made that he might higher pursue that aim elsewhere.

But LeBron’s household needs and well-being carries extra weight than in years previous, due to the place the opposite members of it are in their very own lives.

In the weeks and months that adopted LeBron’s shock dialog with The Athletic’s Jason Lloyd about not ruling out one other Cleveland return, James and the individuals closest to him mentioned he was completely happy in Los Angeles. His household is completely happy, and it is one thing that actually appears to matter on this case.

LeBron’s center youngster, Bryce, is getting into his sophomore yr of highschool. His youngest, daughter Zhuri, shall be 8 this fall. They, to not point out LeBron’s spouse, Savannah, are entrenched in LA

Worth a billion {dollars}, as James is now, that sort of cash can create a number of consolation wherever. But what it could actually’t make up for is altering colleges for Bryce after spending most of his childhood rising up with his group of mates in LA Would Bryce survive if he needed to spend his final two years earlier than faculty some place else? Of course. But the household is not in a scenario the place Bryce begin to maneuver due to dad’s job. LeBron all the time wished to be a Laker, and now he’s one making extra money than he might elsewhere and having fun with life to the fullest, even when the workforce loses.

The different possibility on this hypothetical state of affairs, the place LeBron leaves the Lakers as a free agent subsequent summer season, is to spend the season residing aside from Savannah and the 2 youthful youngsters.

Families do that on a regular basis, particularly in sports activities. And the James gang has entry to non-public airplanes. But judging by his social media posts alone, does LeBron strike you as somebody who can be snug residing outdoors of his own residence, the place his spouse and two youthful youngsters are? (Bronny, within the fall of 2023, will both be in faculty, with G League Ignite or in Australia … or wherever Rich Paul locations him.) Having noticed him for the higher a part of a decade, rather more intently than Instagram permits, I do not purchase it, both.

It is for these causes, to say nothing of LA being the bottom for LeBron’s off-court enterprise ventures, that I discover his potential free company subsequent summer season unlikely.

But not unattainable.

The LeBron-Bronny-teammates factor is actual. With this being the trendy NBA and stars forcing their method off groups, no matter contract worth or size, something is feasible in the case of 2024. But the cleanest, easiest method for LeBron and Bronny to land on the identical workforce is for the workforce that already has LeBron to draft Bronny. Agreeing to a one-year extension then and resetting his free company to 2024 would appear to muddy the image.

As of now, the Lakers do not need a first-round decide. They can have a decide within the second spherical, the decrease alternative primarily based on the data of the Washington Wizards and Memphis Grizzlies.

Paul, James’ agent and probably the most highly effective participant reps within the NBA, can assist on this scenario by warning different groups to not draft Bronny till the Lakers might take him within the second spherical. That is if Bronny is a second-round participant. What if he’s higher? What if he’s worthy of a first-round decide? At a minimal, the Lakers, in speaking with LeBron about this upcoming extension, must decide to doing what it takes to pick his son, even when which means buying and selling away somebody or one thing that would deliver again a 2024 first-round decide.

As an apart, in Cleveland, there would be the cap house to signal LeBron as a free agent subsequent summer season. The Cavs wouldn’t have to the touch their promising core of Darius Garland (represented by Paul, no much less), Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen to do it. Those three, plus a wholesome (however older) LeBron, to not point out the opposite rookies and function gamers not talked about right here, would certainly vault Cleveland from a slowly rising Eastern Conference contender to a workforce with instant championship expectations.

The Cavs have their very own first-round decide in 2024. Their personal second-round decide for 2024 is gone by way of trades, however they’ve a conditional second-rounder from Golden State, and it’s in any other case simpler to commerce for a second-round decide than a primary.

OK, I’ve tied myself up in knots sufficient over this. The Cavs will not be continuing with the intention of getting LeBron for a 3rd time. As a northeast Ohio native who did not transfer when LeBron left for LA, I’m not planning on him coming again, for the explanations said above.

I feel household weighs too closely into this, and the best transfer for him is to remain with the Lakers.

But then I noticed who has the Lakers’ 2024 decide, and why (Davis commerce, anybody?). The commerce that made LeBron a winner in LA is now a hurdle, if solely a small one, to him reaching perhaps his final aim within the NBA.

Playing on the identical workforce with his son.

(Photo by Noah Graham / NBAE by way of Getty Images)

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