Bronny James threatens, via agent, to play in Australia if drafted by team other than Lakers, per report

Bronny James has reportedly been a target of the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round throughout the NBA Draft process, and on Thursday, ESPN’s Bob Myers offered a revealing report that might just help him get there. According to Myers, James’ agent, Rich Paul, is telling teams not to draft James, and that if they do pick him, he will go to Australia rather than signing. 

According to Adrian Wojnarowski on the broadcast desk, Paul is not making that threat to the Lakers.

When a player is drafted by an NBA team but signs a contract to play in a foreign league, the team that drafted him retains that player’s draft rights until one year after their obligation to that foreign team ends, according to Larry Coon’s indispensable CBA FAQ. The team that drafts Bronny could potentially trade his draft rights if he did go to Australia.

In the build up to the draft, Paul had indicated in an interview with ESPN that he was not specifically angling to get Bronny to the Lakers. “I don’t care about him going to the Lakers, or Phoenix, or about what number he gets picked. It’s about fit,” Paul told ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. 

He then indicated that his father, the elder James, is not as committed to playing with his son as he once once. “LeBron is off this idea of having to play with Bronny,” Paul said. “If he does, he does. But if he doesn’t, he doesn’t. There’s no deal made that it’s guaranteed that if the Lakers draft Bronny at 55, he [LeBron] will re-sign. If that was the case, I would force them to take him at 17. We don’t need leverage. The Lakers can draft Bronny and LeBron doesn’t re-sign.”

It’s important to note that LeBron can become a free agent this offseason through a player option in his contract. The Lakers are reportedly willing to offer him a three-year max contract to stay. Whether or not Bronny’s presence on the team is a condition of him remaining in Los Angeles is not clear, but reports have indicated that James and fellow Lakers star Anthony Davis want the team to add veteran talent. That’s because, according to The Athletic’s Sam Amick, James “desperately wants to win at the highest of levels again.” To that end, the Lakers kept the No. 17 overall pick on Wednesday and selected Tennessee wing Dalton Knecht. There is plenty of time left in the offseason, but for now, all is quiet on the trade rumor front where the Lakers are concerned.

All of this indicates that Paul’s quotes to the media before the draft were more of a smokescreen, and the plan all along has been to get Bronny down to No. 55 so the Lakers can take him and he can play with his father. There are still several picks before that can happen, so plenty of teams can try to call Paul’s bluff and select Bronny if they are willing to take the risk.

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