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How the Lakers can pair LeBron James with Bronny

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For the second year in a row, the Lakers were ousted from the NBA Playoffs at the hands of the Nuggets.

Denver guard Jamal Murray sank the game-winning bucket with four seconds left to lift the defending NBA champions to a 108-106 win in Game 5 on Monday night, sending Los Angeles home after just five games in the first-round series. 

The first question for all Lakers fans that is now at the forefront of the team is the future of LeBron James. The star forward has a player option for next season, however, he was non-committal when asked point-blank after the elimination loss. 

While it’s unclear what James’ plans are for the offseason, what has been evident is his desire to play with his son, Bronny James. The current NCAA guard in the transfer portal has the option of going back to college for another year or declaring for the 2024 NBA Draft. 

If a jump to the big leagues is up next for the oldest son of the Lakers star, then Los Angeles is prepared to select the prospect in order to keep his dad on the roster. 

“The Lakers are very open to the prospect of helping LeBron fulfill his dream of playing with his son Bronny by potentially drafting him,” The Athletic reported on Tuesday morning following the Lakers’ exit from the 2024 NBA Playoffs. 

The Lakers may want to make that dream a reality, but do they have the assets to do it? Here is more on how the Lakers could draft Bronny James, uniting him with LeBron in the NBA. 

MORE: What LeBron James has said about his future as a Laker

The Lakers are limited in what they can do at the 2024 NBA Draft — but that may not be a bad thing. 

Los Angeles will have at least one draft pick this year since the franchise owns the Clippers’ second-rounder. It’s also possible the Lakers will have their own first-round pick, which is dependent on what the Pelicans decide to do.

New Orleans owns Los Angeles’ first-round pick as a part of the Anthony Davis trade in 2019 and can choose either to take L.A.’s 2024 first-round pick or defer the first-rounder to 2025, which is considered a stronger draft class. 

In addition, the Lakers traded their second-rounder to the Grizzlies and received a second-rounder in return. However, they flipped that pick soon after in the D’Angelo Russell deal, and now the Lakers’ second-rounder belongs to the Spurs.

The Lakers could potentially acquire draft capital for this summer’s selection, but the organization would be smart to wait for Bronny James’ decision. The USC guard elected to enter the transfer portal this offseason while also declaring for the 2024 NBA Draft. It keeps his options open for the 2024-25 season. 

MORE: Sporting News’ latest 2024 NBA Mock Draft

If the son of the Lakers star goes back to college, then the Lakers would be looking at taking him in 2025 in order to pair the two on the same team. If the Pelicans decide to take the Lakers’ 2024 first-round pick, then Los Angeles owns its first and second in 2025. New Orleans could elect instead to poach the 2025 first-rounder from L.A., leaving the Lakers without a first-round pick in 2025. 

This is all if James picks up his option for the upcoming season and does not leave the Lakers for another team that very likely would also be looking to fulfill James’ dream of playing with his son in the NBA. 

MORE: The best landing spot for LeBron James isn’t what you think

James’ draft stock was much higher entering the 2023-24 season than it is now. Before the season, plenty of scouting sites had the USC freshman as a first-round pick, or at the very least, a second-round selection.

Now, he isn’t listed on any major mock drafts following his decision to enter the NBA Draft. The Sporting News, ESPN, Bleacher Report and The Ringer do not have the son of the NBA great among the top 60 picks.

That doesn’t mean James won’t get drafted. His stock could rise in the lead-up to the draft or, given his connection to LeBron, a team may take a flier on Bronny in the hopes that it brings the four-time NBA champion to their city.

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