Some NBA players are lucky if they are still able to play at a relatively high-level at 37-years-old.
Set to turn 38 in December, LeBron James is not only still playing at a high-level, but he is still a Top-5 player in the NBA when healthy. On-pace to pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for first on the NBA’s all-time scoring list during the 2022-23 season, James truly has nothing left to prove or achieve in his career.
An 18-time All-Star, 18-time All-NBA performer, a four-time champion, four-time MVP and four-time Finals MVP, James will go down as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, players in NBA history.
However, there is still one personal achievement that the soon-to-be 20-year veteran would like to fulfill and that is playing with his son LeBron “Bronny” James Jr. for at least one year in the NBA.
Bronny is 17-years-old and getting ready to begin his senior year in high school at Sierra Canyon. Widely expected to be a “one-and-done” talent when he goes to college, James Jr. will be eligible for the 2024 NBA Draft, which would come after his father’s 21st season in the league.
By the time Bronny James is in the draft, LeBron James will be 39-years-old and it is likely that by this point, he will be ready to pass the torch along to his son.
Playing with Bronny though remains the only thing LeBron still wants to do in his career though and during the 2021-22 season, James spoke with The Athletic in an exclusive interview and stated that his intention is to play with his son.
“My last year will be played with my son,” James said. “Wherever Bronny is at, that’s where I’ll be. I would do whatever it takes to play with my son for one year. It’s not about the money at that point.”
James could not make himself anymore clear on his intentions, which definitely has sent a message to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Already winning a title in Los Angeles and dealing with a handful of turmoil these last few seasons given the team’s lack of success, it does not appear that James is fully committed to the idea of retiring with the Lakers.
Obviously he wants to remain with the Lakers for now, but should his son get drafted by another team in this league, it seems very likely that LeBron would jump ship to sign any type of one-year contract with said other team.
Many around the league also feel this way and they tend to believe that LeBron James will not sign a long-term extension with the Lakers in order to keep his options open of potentially playing with his son for the 2024-25 season, which could ultimately end up being LeBron’s final season in the NBA before retiring.
“Nobody is trying to make up a story on this, these words of wanting to play with his son came straight from LeBron James himself and he has backed this up numerous times on social media,” one member of a team’s front-office told Fastbreak. “Don’t be shocked if Bronny’s draft stock is much higher than it should be in 2024 simply because there are other teams in this league who will simply take him in the draft in order to get LeBron James for a year.”
Who knows if LeBron James will still be the high-level talent he is right now by the time Bronny James is in the league, but this is a very intriguing point.
Simply having LeBron on your team fills seats in an arena and for a smaller market team that is going through some sort of a rebuild or on the verge of making the playoffs, drafting Bronny in order to sign LeBron is definitely a move worth noting for several teams in the league right now.
As for a possible contract with the Lakers, James is eligible to sign a two-year, close to $100 million extension starting on Thursday, August 4.
Departing Los Angeles following the 2022-23 season is unlikely at this time, but so is James signing a two-year deal that locks him into being a Laker through the 2024-25 season.
Having that freedom to be an unrestricted free agent in 2024 seems like something that LeBron James is wanting at this time given that his son is on the verge of joining the NBA, which is why a “1+1” contract extension with a player option for the 2024-25 season is probably the kind of deal we will see James sign.
James staying with the Lakers and retiring in Los Angeles is also a possibility, however, the Lakers do not own their 2024 first-round pick.
As a result of the Anthony Davis trade in 2019, Los Angeles traded the rights to this 2024 first-round pick with some stipulations. The New Orleans Pelicans currently own the option to receive this pick or defer it until 2025, a decision that lies in the hands of the Pelicans front-office run by David Griffin, the former general manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers when LeBron was in Cleveland.
It’s funny how things come full-circle like this in the NBA right?
If the Pelicans end up taking the Lakers 2024 first-round pick, Los Angeles will be left scrambling in terms of trying to acquire another draft pick in order to take Bronny James and ultimately keep LeBron James.
There is so much that goes into this pending situation with LeBron and quite honestly, a contact extension this offseason really does not give much clarity into what will occur unless James signs a deal that ties him up through the 2024-25 season, something that is very unlikely at this time.
Playing with his son Bronny remains LeBron’s main focus near the end of his career.