LeBron James signed a massive two-year, $85 million contract extension with the Los Angeles Lakers this week. The deal will keep him in LA through the 2022-23 season, when he will be 39 years old.
One of the goals LeBron has repeatedly stated that he has is playing in the NBA alongside his oldest son, Bronny.
“That would be an unbelievable moment not only for myself but for my family, for everybody,” he said at one point. “That would be pretty dang cool if I were able to be on the NBA floor with my oldest son.”
Bronny, 16, currently plays for Sierra Canyon High School in California and is widely regarded as a top-30 prospect in his 2023 class. If he foregoes college, he would ostensibly be able to play alongside his dad precisely when this most recent extension runs out.
In order for LeBron and Bronny to team up, though – several notable puzzle pieces must align first.
First and foremost, LeBron must still be healthy and playing by 2023. Although his contract runs through that point, there is no guarantee that his body will listen. Kobe Bryant famously stayed healthy right up until the very end of his career, at which point his body repeatedly started breaking down.
Although LeBron was reasonably healthy last year, he did play in only 55 games in 2018 as a result of injury. That marked the fewest games he had ever played in his career.
Larsa Pippen’s son reacts to his mom getting passed around like a basketball. https://t.co/wYDiitHd6A
— Game 7 (@game7__) December 2, 2020
Now, to be clear – Michael Jordan and Vince Carter both played into their 40s, so there is no reason to think LeBron won’t be able to as well. But it is still something that must occur in order for him and Bronny to have any shot of teaming up together.
The next thing that must happen is Bronny needs to hold up his end of things. Although he is a very promising young talent, nobody is confusing him for a top-five prospect in his class. He still needs to do a considerable amount of work to establish himself.
If the plan is to go straight to the NBA from high school, without any time spent in college, Bronny will have to prove himself pro-ready right off the bat. That is a tall order.
Colby Covington issued a direct warning to LeBron. https://t.co/JcgkT2ELjN
— Game 7 (@game7__) December 1, 2020
Which leads right into the next big issue that both LeBron and Bronny will need to overcome – high school players are currently prohibited from making the jump straight to the NBA. There has been talk of abolishing this rule, but thus far, nothing has actually materialized.
If all those issues are ultimately somehow worked out, then LeBron and Bronny playing together suddenly becomes a very tangible possibility.
The question then becomes: who would they play for? A lot of that depends on what sort of player Bronny grows into being.
The lesson here: actions have consequences. https://t.co/aVhdqhCxfN
— Game 7 (@game7__) November 27, 2020
If he becomes a top-tier first round pick, then obviously LeBron will simply attempt to follow him to whomever drafts him. However, if that doesn’t happen, then perhaps a tandem of some sort could be formed either with the Lakers or Cleveland Cavaliers.
Given the role LeBron has played for both franchises, but particularly the latter one, it would make sense for him to be honored in this fashion.
A lot of puzzle pieces need to come together for LeBron and Bronny to suit up together, but it’s definitely doable. Will it ultimately happen? Time will tell.