Tuesday night marked the formal start of LeBron James’ once-in-a-lifetime NBA career in year 21.
However, the all-time leading scorer in the league provided very no indication of his aging process. In addition to leading the team in rebounds (eight) and plus/minus (plus–7), he led the team in points (21). He did not commit a single turnover while dishing out five assists.
His 29-minute playing time was the only aspect of his box score that felt a little short, but that was intentional. L.A. intends to restrict their 38-year-old star’s playing time this season in an attempt to keep him as fresh as possible.
He has missed more than 20 games in each of the last two seasons, so if that keeps him upright, perhaps this will pave the way for even more seasons in the future. According to Spotrac, he has a $51.4 million player option for2024–2025, but that provides him some flexibility if he wants to continue playing on a different deal.
Like, maybe to go together with his son Bronny James, a freshman at USC who is ranked No. 35 in the most recent B/R mock draft for 2024.
Though Bronny James went into cardiac collapse during a July workout, it’s uncertain if he’ll be included in that draft. However, LeBron’s NBA future may be significantly impacted if he declares for the draft. Bronny’s health “may be the single biggest factor affecting James’ free agency,” according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic.
LeBron James “would want to be able to play on the same team as his son, if it’s possible,” according to Vardon, and “most observers believe the Lakers will find a way to make sure that happens in Los Angeles.”
James performed admirably on Tuesday night, so it’s understandable.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone told reporters, “LeBron is just unstoppable—he’s been in the league for 21 years.”
James is an all-time great who has managed to stay that way for more than 20 years in the Association. In the first game, he appeared to be L.A.’s greatest player, which speaks volumes about him and speaks to the troubles of Austin Reaves (4-of-11 shooting, minus-14 in 31 minutes) and Anthony Davis (17 points on 17 shots, scoreless in the second half).
Even though James appeared to be improving, the Lakers are aware of his potential.
He averaged 28.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, 6.8 assists, and 35.5 minutes per night only the previous season. Every time he takes the floor, people are watching him closely and he seems to be able to call up video game characters at any time.
Therefore, L.A. should want to retain him around, especially considering Bronny is a promising player on his own if he stays healthy.
“A full-strength James without medical red flags should draw interest with his coveted mix of shooting, passing IQ, defense and maturity,” Wasserman wrote in his satire.
Watching Bronny’s draft night unfold will be interesting if his medicals go well. The Lakers owe the New Orleans Pelicans their first-round pick (though New Orleans may choose to get L.A.’s 2025 first instead) and the San Antonio Spurs their second-round selection. Although it might not land early enough to get Bronny, Los Angeles does possess the second-round pick of the Los Angeles Clippers.
What then transpires? Would the Lakers attempt to acquire Bronny by moving up the board? Would other teams take a look at picking Bronny in an effort to add him to their squad and maybe entice LeBron to their city?
Los Angeles should go to all lengths to acquire Bronny if it wishes to retain LeBron.