Lakers favored to draft Bronny James, but are rivals circling?

League: NBA

Posted on: 30 May, 2024 at 03:34 AM

Credit: Robert Edwards-USA TODAY Sports

Let the rumor games begin in earnest.

Bronny James is staying in the 2024 NBA Draft, adding a massive layer of intrigue despite not being projected as a first-round pick, much less a lottery selection.

LeBron James has seemingly backed off previous statements that his hope is to play with his son in the NBA. Is that posturing, or would The King truly be satisfied with potentially playing opposite Bronny a few times a year?

The next month promises to bring smoke screens and rumor mongering at the highest NBA level.

LeBron James is expected to opt out of his current contract before the June 29 deadline, regardless of whether he plans to return to the Los Angeles Lakers. The question is whether he will use that as leverage to make sure that he winds up playing alongside -- not opposite -- Bronny, regardless of whether he calls Arena home next season.

At least one sportsbook is offering odds on each of the potential 30 NBA teams drafting Bronny James.

Los Angeles Lakers (2/3)
Phoenix Suns (2/1)
New York Knicks (16/1)
Los Angeles Clippers (18/1)
Cleveland Cavaliers (20/1)
Philadelphia 76ers (20/1)
Memphis Grizzlies (22/1)
Miami Heat (22/1)
Chicago Bulls (25/1)
Milwaukee Bucks (25/1)
Atlanta Hawks (28/1)
Dallas Mavericks (28/1)
Oklahoma City Thunder (28/1)
San Antonio Spurs (28/1)
Golden State Warriors (33/1)
Utah Jazz (33/1)
Boston Celtics (40/1)
Denver Nuggets (40/1)
Houston Rockets (40/1)
Minnesota Timberwolves (40/1)
New Orleans Pelicans (40/1)
Portland Trail Blazers (40/1)
Sacramento Kings (40/1)
Toronto Raptors (40/1)
Orlando Magic (45/1)
Brooklyn Nets (50/1)
Detroit Pistons (50/1)
Indiana Pacers (50/1)
Washington Wizards (50/1)
Charlotte Hornets (66/1)
*Odds provided by for informational purposes only.

On the surface, the Lakers are the perfect landing spot. LeBron James clearly loves playing for the purple and gold, and teaming with Bronny in Hollywood would be a marketing grand slam.

The problem is the Lakers currently hold the Nos. 17 and 55 picks in the June 26 draft (though the New Orleans Pelicans have the option of taking the Lakers' first-round pick either this draft or next). Bronny James, 19, isn't viewed as a mid-first-round prospect by most analysts, but there are no shortage of teams that might look to take a flier on him before No. 55.

That's why most of the teams with the next-shortest odds to draft Bronny James have also been mentioned as potential suitors for LeBron if he's open to another change of NBA addresses.

The Phoenix Suns, who own the No. 22 pick, are scheduled to work out Bronny James.

Thickening the plot, Suns general manager James Jones played with LeBron James in Cleveland and Miami. Could Jones make a play to add the James duo to a core that includes Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal?

Phoenix currently has +1200 odds at DraftKings to be the next team LeBron James takes the court for. That's behind only the Lakers at -425 and the Cleveland Cavaliers at +750.

The Cavs are tied for the fifth-shortest odds at to draft Bronny James, which could lead to a third stint for LeBron with his hometown team. The +2000 odds are the same as those of the Philadelphia 76ers, who may see a closing window of opportunity with injury-prone superstar Joel Embiid. The Sixers have the fifth-shortest odds at DraftKings to land LeBron at +2200.

Another intriguing destination for the father-son tandem -- should they work a situation to play together -- is the bright lights of New York City. The New York Knicks are coming off a season that fell a win shy of the Eastern Conference Finals.

With an ascending roster and another proven star in Jalen Brunson, could the James duo suit up together in Madison Square Garden? The Knicks have the third-shortest odds to draft Bronny James, while DraftKings is offering +2500 odds that they'll sign LeBron James.

Of course, there's still the very real possibility that father and son are playing for different NBA franchises next season. But LeBron James' opt-out provides a path for the elder James to help stack the deck strongly in his favor should the ultimate goal be to play alongside his son as soon as next season.

--Field Level Media