LeBron James reportedly won't leave Lakers to join Bronny with another NBA team

James previously said he wants to play with his son, but has backed off from that

NBA teams shouldn't draft Bronny James with the assumption that doing so would also attract LeBron James as a free agent.

Front offices could reach out to LeBron's representation, Bronny James or the Los Angeles Lakers star in the weeks leading up to the June 26–27 NBA Draft to ask if selecting Bronny would mean the senior James could join that team as well. However, LeBron's answer to that would be "No, as of right now," according to The Athletic's Shams Charania.

The "as of right now" part of that answer could provide enough wiggle room for teams to consider creating a situation that would appeal to LeBron. And some clubs have already expressed interest in drafting Bronny in the second round after his performance at this week's NBA Draft Combine.

However, the Lakers intend to re-sign LeBron, who has a player option for the 2024-25 season worth $51.4 million, and meet whatever demands he has. And all accounts are that the four-time NBA MVP intends to stay in Los Angeles, especially if the Lakers add a head coach he likes and trade for another star to play with him and Anthony Davis.

This season, the Lakers finished as the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference before defeating the New Orleans Pelicans in the NBA play-in tournament. They were eliminated from the playoffs in five games by the defending champion Denver Nuggets.

In the past, James has said he wants to play his final NBA season with his son and would sign with the team that drafted Bronny. However, he has backed off that stance recently, admitting that playing together is his dream, but not necessarily what his son wants. Following the end of the Lakers' season, he said that playing with Bronny is no longer a priority for him.

Bronny told reporters at the draft combine that he didn't want to just be known as LeBron James' son. He wants people to judge him on his own merits and individual skills.

"Everything that follows my dad, people just try to link me with that and all the greatness he’s achieved and I haven’t done anything yet," Bronny said. "So there needs to be that divide between Bronny and LeBron. I just want to let people know that my name is Bronny James and not being identified as LeBron James’ son."

In his lone season with USC, Bronny averaged 4.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 25 games. He missed the first half of the season after suffering cardiac arrest during a workout and undergoing heart surgery, but was allowed to join the Trojans for the rest of their campaign.

Bronny was medically cleared to take part in activities at the draft combine, where he's impressed observers with his athleticism and shooting skills, and fared well in scrimmages.

Any question about father and son playing together could be easily answered if Bronny is available with the Lakers' second-round pick at No. 55. That could be one of the draft's biggest storylines on its second night, especially if Los Angeles needs to move up to select LeBron's son.