Rich Paul, the agent representing Bronny James ahead of the 2024 NBA Draft, is attempting to distance his client from his father and future Hall-of-Famer LeBron James. Many have speculated that the two would be a package deal, but Paul discredited that idea earlier this week.

“LeBron is off this idea of having to play with Bronny,” Paul said Wednesday, according to ESPN. “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. LeBron is also not going to Phoenix for a minimum deal. We can squash that now.”

Coming off a season in which he scored five points per game at USC, much of Bronny’s prospective draft value stems from the idea that the team drafting him would also have a chance of signing LeBron. The four-time NBA Champion has previously expressed the desire to play in the league with his son before retiring.

“I need to be on the floor with my boy, I got to be on the floor with Bronny,” James said in early 2023, before quickly adding that it could be together or in opposing uniforms.

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Despite his eagerness at one point, however, several reports in recent months seem to confirm that LeBron is no longer fixated on the idea. Though he still has the family name, Bronny will enter the draft as a green mid-tier prospect with limited college experience.

Paul reported that the 19-year-old guard has worked out with the Lakers and Suns and that focused interactions with teams is part of the agent’s plan.

“I got the word out early to teams that if you plan on bringing Bronny in, here’s what you need to know: If you won’t give him a real deal, there’s nothing to talk about,” Paul said. “It’s hard to get real development on a two-way deal. I don’t care about him going to the Lakers, or Phoenix, or about what number he gets picked. It’s about fit.”

While drafting Bronny may not have the power to pull LeBron away from Los Angeles as some once thought, it is still likely that the move could convince him to stay. The Lakers are currently in talks with LeBron to extend his stay with the team, and drafting his son would be an excellent way to prevent him from exploring the waters in free agency. It may no longer be a priority for the James family to unite, but Los Angeles could make it far more convenient.

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