For the second consecutive year, the Los Angeles Lakers' season ends at the hands of the Denver Nuggets in a two-point loss in the NBA Playoffs, and for the second consecutive year, the Lakers enter the offseason unsure of LeBron James' future with the team. Last year, it was postgame comment related to retirement that cast doubt on whether LeBron would be back for his 21st NBA season, and this time around, it's a looming opt out and a potential team up with his son, USC reserve guard Bronny James, that is potentially putting LeBron's future with the Lakers in doubt.

LeBron James is on the record saying that he plans to play with his son, telling Jason Lloyd of The Athletic back in 2022, “My last year will be played with my son. 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.” Given the fact that the 2024-25 season would be LeBron's 22nd in the NBA, which would tie Vince Carter's record of the most in NBA history, it seems very possible that the time for LeBron and Bronny to team up may be now.

But the Los Angeles Lakers could have a say in all of this. Because the NBA Draft is set for the week before the beginning of free agency, the Lakers could easily boost their chances of retaining the league's leading scorer by selecting his son in the NBA Draft, a scenario that according to Shams Charania, Jovan Buha and Sam Amick of The Athletic, is very much in play.

“Team sources say the Lakers are very open to the prospect of helping LeBron fulfill his dream of playing with his son Bronny by potentially drafting him.”

Of course, there are a lot of variables in play here. First, Bronny James needs to decide to remain in the NBA Draft rather than returning to college. Bronny's freshman season at USC that didn't do much to help his draft stock, so it's possible that while he's in the feeling out phase of the transfer portal, he could decide to go back for his sophomore season, with Duquesne and Ohio State being considered the favorites to land him if he were to go that route. However, there is some belief around the league that Bronny's game may be better suited for the NBA than it is college.

The Lakers would then need to be the team that actually selects Bronny in the 2024 NBA Draft. Given his status as a prospect, it's unlikely that the Lakers will face too much competition in getting to the podium first to call his name. However, imagine there were a team that has been rumored to have interest in LeBron James, or a team that would LeBron would theoretically have some interest in playing for — let's just say the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs or Golden State Warriors. If one of those teams were to beat the Lakers to the punch on draft night and select Bronny James, what happens then?

The Lakers are very eager to keep LeBron James, and per Charania, Buha and Amick, “would be open to discussing any deal that involves James coming back — including even the maximum three-year, $164 million extension they can offer.” Add in a no trade clause and it would be hard for LeBron James to turn that deal down… unless playing with his son is his one and only priority at this point in his career, which is coming closer and closer to ending by the day.