Rumor: LeBron James could leave Lakers to play with son Bronny James

Lakers star LeBron James and Bronny James as Sierra Canyon plays St. Vincent-St. Mary The Chosen - 1's Invitational High School Basketball Showcase at the Staples Center
Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
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LeBron James wants to play with his son Bronny James in the NBA.

Would LeBron – who said he wants to retire with the Lakers – leave Los Angeles to make it happen?

Brian Windhorst of ESPN, via Chris Sheridan of Maxim:

“LeBron likes L.A., he likes raising his family in L.A., and his post-career businesses are in L.A.,” ESPN journalist Brian Windhorst told me. “But he’s made it very clear that he wants to play with his son. If that situation is available outside L.A., he’ll pursue it.”

Barring a rule change, Bronny will be eligible for the 2024 NBA Draft – when LeBron is 39.

NBA players – even those who have seemed superhuman throughout their career and are starring at 37 – can’t take for granted they’ll still be playing at 39. The possibility of steep physical decline is too great at that age. Even LeBron seems to realize that, signing a contract extension through next season reportedly because he’s facing his basketball mortality.

But LeBron is still active and getting closer and closer to potentially playing with Bronny. Though it’s too early to say with much certainty, let alone confidently predict his draft range, Bronny looks like a viable NBA prospect.

Which does raise some interesting possibilities about LeBron’s future in the NBA.

How high would a team draft Bronny to get the inside track on his dad? What lengths would the Lakers – who might already have LeBron under contract – go to draft Bronny?

Seemingly because LeBron tweeted Shabazz Napier was the best point guard in the 2014 draft, the Heat traded up for Napier. (LeBron departed Miami that summer, anyway, leaving Heat president Pat Riley to say “No more smiling faces with hidden agendas.”)

The Lakers already traded their 2024 first- and second-round picks. (The Pelicans, who own Los Angeles’ 2024 first-rounder, can defer conveyance of the first-round pick until 2025.) But the Lakers could trade other assets to get into the draft.

Los Angeles can’t absolutely assume LeBron will stay. Though LeBron said he wants to finish his career with the Lakers, he once said the same thing about the Cavaliers.

Perhaps, this is just speculation about LeBron leaving the Lakers to play with Bronny, people making inaccurate assumptions and connecting dots that shouldn’t connect. When the best, most powerful, most popular player of his generation might become available – even at the tail end of his career – that draws major attention. It’s easy to see how rumors could get carried away.

But especially in hindsight, LeBron appeared to telegraph leaving Cleveland the first time, leaving Miami to return to Cleveland and leaving Cleveland the second time.

If he’s actually considering leaving the Lakers to play with Bronny, history would suggest LeBron wouldn’t keep that plan completely secret.