LeBron James’ NBA future has had a lack of clarity to it for a number of reasons, ranging from the fact he’s in unprecedented territory for production at this point in it, as well as his desire to play with his son Bronny.
That latter aspect has been a big driving force in the question of where LeBron may finish his career. For years, he has been adamant that he will join whatever team drafts Bronny late in his own career.
However, the reality of the situation may be leading to LeBron walking those claims back. In his recent sit-down interview with Dave McMenamin of ESPN, James discussed the notion of playing with his son and how that goal has shifted a bit.
James has two more years remaining on his contract with the Lakers. While he has repeatedly expressed his hope that the Lakers can find a way to field a more competitive team around him for the twilight of his career, there’s another goal he prioritizes above all else.
“I need to be on the floor with my boy, I got to be on the floor with Bronny,” James said of his eldest son, currently a senior in high school, who would not be eligible to play in the NBA until the 2024-25 season under the rules of the current collective bargaining agreement.
James has expressed this desire before, saying how he hoped to be teammates with his son in the league. However, he adjusted that stance slightly on Friday.
“Either in the same uniform or a matchup against him. I don’t mean like [guarding one another all game] — because he’s a point guard and I’m a, at this point now I’m playing center or whatever the team needs from me,” James said. “But I would love to do the whole Ken Griffey Sr. and Jr. thing. That would be ideal for sure.”
It makes sense that LeBron might kind of pull back on some of the pressure he’s heaped on his son. It creates an awkward dynamic when Bronny enters the league of a team potentially only drafting him because they know they could potentially gain LeBron’s services, too.
Whether that factored into him walking back some of his statements is unclear. There’s also the fact that it’s also still pretty unlikely. Bronny landing on a team and LeBron being able to join that same team, even if willing to go on a minimum, requires a number of things to fall into place simultaneously.
This could all also ultimately be a result of James preferring to stay in Los Angeles over everything else, which McMenamin also confirmed on his recent appearance on The Lowe Post podcast.
Lowe: ”I last checked in on this last week... I just keep hearing that despite this rush of ‘what could the Lakers get if they traded LeBron?’ and ‘how much of a flight risk is he?’ I just keep hearing that he wants to stay with the Lakers, he wants to finish his career with the Lakers. His comments should be interpreted though, as his patience is not infinite, and if this is just a continued morass of losing, maybe that changes. But if you forced me to bet, I’d still be on him finishing his career with the Lakers and I’d feel pretty confident in that. Do you see any flight risk or trade risk?
McMenamin: ”I mean, he has the opt-out for various reasons. One because if he sustains at an incredible level, then you can opt out and add more guaranteed years at that point. Two... is that a very real goal of his is to find a way to potentially play on the same team with his son. And that opt-out coincides with — under the current collective bargaining agreement — the first time that Bronny James would be eligible to play in the NBA. And who knows what happens at that point? And again, knock on wood, but things could happen in the negative sense between now and 2024. LeBron’s body being 21 years in and 39 years old, and maybe he has to consider — and this sounds crazy, I’m not trying to sound ludicrous — that he would be the complementary player to his son. If something happens physically to where he couldn’t play, he would just go to be there with his son. So there’s all those scenarios in play. I think if he had his druthers, he plays on the Lakers until he hangs it up, Bronny James is on the Lakers, and the Lakers are back in the playoffs every single season, and I think that would be enough. It’s not championship-or-bust, it’s competitive-basketball-or-bust, and I think that’s his breaking point.”
The easiest path for all this to play out would be for the Lakers to simply draft Bronny, which could theoretically happen. He will likely be draft-eligible in 2024, and the Lakers could have their first-round pick that year along with one of Memphis or Washington’s second round picks.
In all, though, it appears to be good news for the Lakers. LeBron doesn’t appear as set on leaving the franchise despite the front office’s best efforts this year to seemingly test his patience. And regardless of how or where it takes place, if LeBron and Bronny share the court together in the coming years, it’ll truly be a historic moment.