Rich Paul says LeBron James, Bronny aren't a package deal as NBA draft looms

Bronny James will enter next week's NBA Draft as perhaps the most intriguing second-round prospect ever.

The intrigue has little to do with his basketball ability, but rather that of his father LeBron James. It's long been speculated that whoever lands Bronny will have a leg up on securing the services of James, who has an option to opt out of his contract with the Los Angeles Lakers and become a free agent.

Rich Paul — the agent for both — attempted to squash that notion Wednesday. He told Jonathan Givony of Draft Express that Bronny and LeBron aren't a package deal; drafting Bronny won't ensure a contract with LeBron, and failing to do so won't preclude one.

He used the Lakers and the Phoenix Suns as an example.

"The Lakers can draft Bronny, and LeBron doesn't re-sign," Paul told Givony, "LeBron is also not going to Phoenix for a minimum deal. We can squash that now."

Paul mentioned the Lakers and Suns because he says those are the only two teams with whom Bronny has held workouts. The Suns have the No. 22 pick in the first round. They don't have a second-round selection. The Lakers pick 17th and 55th overall.

Will Bronny and LeBron James play together in the NBA? (Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images)
Will Bronny and LeBron James play together in the NBA? (Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images)

Bronny doesn't fit the profile of a first-round pick. A 6-2 guard, Bronny averaged 4.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 19.3 minutes per game as a freshman at USC. He came off the bench in 19 of the 25 games he played and saw his development delayed after he suffered cardiac arrest in the summer before his freshman year.

Yahoo Sports draft analyst Krysten Peek projects the Lakers to select Bronny with the No. 55 pick in her latest mock draft.

The idea that Bronny and LeBron are a package deal didn't come out of thin air. LeBron has long stated his desire to play in the NBA with Bronny and at one point declared matter-of-factly that he would.

“My last year will be played with my son,” James told The Athletic in 2022. “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.”

LeBron has since backed off that stance and said in May that "the young man will decide what he wants to do and how he wants his career to go."

Bronny had this to say about the idea of playing with his dad later in May:

"Yeah, I don’t think about it much,” James said.

It remains to be seen how this all plays out, with Bronny being drafted next week the first chip to fall. Until he's drafted and James signs with whomever he signs with, the storyline will continue to dominate the NBA offseason.