Rich Paul Speaks Out About Bronny James' Draft Process

Paul isn't fooling anyone with his 'design' for Bronny's pre-draft plans.
May 14, 2024; Chicago, IL, USA; Bronny James talks to the media during the 2024 NBA Draft Combine at Wintrust Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
May 14, 2024; Chicago, IL, USA; Bronny James talks to the media during the 2024 NBA Draft Combine at Wintrust Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports / David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Rich Paul, the CEO of Klutch Sports Group and Bronny James’ agent, was nothing short of confusing when he spoke about the NBA Draft process for his client on Wednesday

Paul was emphatic in saying that restricting Bronny’s workouts to the Lakers and Suns was “by design” because he only wanted a guaranteed deal, not a two-way contract.

But then he said that Bronny is receiving legitimate interest from other teams who would offer him a guaranteed deal, including the Timberwolves, Mavericks, and Raptors.

This all makes a little more sense if you read between the lines. 

LeBron Doesn’t Want to Give Away His Power of Choice

You have to be kidding yourself if you think LeBron suddenly has reversed course – or is even neutral – about wanting to team up with his son. 

But most of all, he certainly does not want to give an NBA team the power of choosing where he goes simply by drafting Bronny.

"LeBron is off this idea of having to play with Bronny," Paul told 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.”

And it’s not as if it would necessarily be a good thing if the Lakers felt they had to use their No. 17 pick on Bronny when they could still nab him at No. 55 instead.

If the Lakers draft Bronny, it certainly will give LeBron a good reason to stay in LA, and that’s undeniable human nature, even if Paul doesn’t want to admit it for the sake of leverage.

But it would also be useful if LA also had a significant first-round talent to add along with Bronny, especially with LeBron’s career winding down.

Why Would Bronny Not Work Out for Other Teams?

There are only two conceivable reasons that Paul wouldn’t want Bronny to work out for teams with a legitimate interest in offering him a guaranteed deal.

It could be that Bronny has significant holes in his game that would be exposed in a focused workout. Or Paul doesn’t want other teams to move Bronny up their draft boards and select him ahead of the Lakers’ No. 55 spot.  

Otherwise, there’s no explaining as to why Bronny wouldn’t want to keep his options open.

"There are other teams that love Bronny,” Paul told ESPN. “For example, Minnesota, Dallas, Toronto. If it's not the Lakers, it will be someone else. Minnesota would love to get Bronny in, but I don't know who their owner is going to be. [Mavs GM] Nico Harrison is like an uncle to Bronny. If the Lakers don't take him at 55, Dallas would take him at 58 and give him a guaranteed deal. Masai [Ujiri, Raptors president,] loves him. They could take him without even seeing him at 31. Workouts aren't everything for these teams."

Let’s be real: this isn’t about fit. It doesn’t make much sense to not work out for teams that are interested in offering you what you want.

It’s either about hiding Bronny's weaknesses or about LeBron not giving up his power of choice -- or both.

Don’t be surprised if Bronny goes to the Lakers at No. 55 overall next week.

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