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It appears there’s only one way LeBron James will leave the Los Angeles Lakers any time soon: to team up with his son Bronny.
“The prevailing thinking in league circles holds that only the chance to play elsewhere alongside his Bronny James, who will be eligible for the 2024 draft and continues to develop as an NBA prospect, would spur LeBron to push for an LA exit,” NBA insider Marc Stein wrote in his latest “This Week in Basketball” column.
James is set to enter the final year of his contract, and there have been rumors about his wanting to play elsewhere.
It’s unclear what kind of deal James will seek. If he signs a one-year contract, he would become a free agent when Bronny is eligible to get drafted.
It wouldn’t be surprising if James left the Lakers. Since he joined the franchise in 2018, the Purple and Gold have won one NBA title, posted one first-round playoff exit and missed the postseason twice.
The Athletic’s Jovan Buha (h/t Orlando Silva of Fadeaway World) speculated earlier this month on The Athletic NBA Show that James could leave LA if the Lakers have another disappointing season in 2022-23:
“I’m gonna say [it won’t be James’ last season with L.A.], but I think it really depends on Russ and the season that they have. … I think if they stand pat and basically punt on the season … I could see him potentially leaving next offseason, but my expectation is they’re gonna flip Russ at some point. And assuming they get Kyrie [Irving] or Buddy Hield or a decent package back for him, I think that’s probably enough to satisfy LeBron and keep him in LA”
James has long said he wanted to play at least one NBA season with his son Bronny. He told The Athletic’s Jason Lloyd in February that he will play one year with his son.
“My last year will be played with my son,” LeBron 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.”
Whether that comes in 2024 or later, James likely won’t be a Laker by the time his career ends.