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2024 NBA Draft: Suns’ Bronny James Workout a Shrewd Move

LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers) and Bradley Beal (Phoenix Suns) speak on the court

Bronny James is the hottest prospect in the 2024 NBA Draft.

The USC product is coming off of an unsatisfactory freshman season, leading to uncertainty about how he’ll fare in the NBA. Nonetheless, given his bloodlines and original draft projection, an increasingly vocal minority seems to believe in him. There’s also the simple fact that teams want to bewitch LeBron James, believing that the opportunity to play with his son increases the chance he’ll sign with them as a free agent this offseason.

The Los Angeles Lakers are one such team.

James has played for the Lakers for the past six seasons, but they’ve been wildly unsuccessful. Though they managed to capture a championship in the NBA Bubble, two of their postseason runs have ended in the First Round. These are the only First Round losses of James’s playoff career. L.A. has also missed the playoffs altogether during James’s tenure. The only other time James has missed the playoffs twice in a four-year span? His first two seasons in the league.

As a result, there’s reason to believe that he’ll at least look around in free agency. After all, he hasn’t gotten to his position —on or off the court —by settling out of sentimentality.

Suns’ Bronny James Workout a Shrewd Move

With the date of the 2024 NBA Draft (Jun. 26-27) edging closer, the Phoenix Suns are set to host Bronny for a workout, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

A 6-foot-1 combo guard, James’s skillset could legitimately appeal to the Suns.

They don’t need a high usage shot-maker or shot-creator with Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Bradley Beal on the roster. They need to find players that will generate ball-movement, make impactful defensive plays, and do the dirty work. If that player is also capable of knocking down open jumpers, it’s a bonus.

Of course, James could also end up headlining the Valley Suns, Phoenix’s rebranded G League affiliate.

There, he would have the opportunity to work on his game, primarily his ball-handling and shooting technique. He could do it against a lower level of competition than he’d face in the NBA, allowing for a smoother transition from college. He’d also escape the pressure that comes with playing for a high profile championship contender.

For the Suns, it’s a chance to develop a prospect who does have untapped potential. Just how much lies below the surface remains to be seen. Nonetheless, given his basketball IQ, two-way playmaking, and scoring upside, it’s worth exploring.

This could also lead to a financial windfall, as fans may buy Bronny’s merchandise no matter who he plays for. His namesake is so popular that it’ll sell itself.

LeBron James for Bradley Beal?

Say the Suns drafted Bronny intending to provide LeBron with an incentive to sign with them in free agency.

Due to CBA rules, it’s a complicated process, but not impossible. The primary obstacle is that the Suns won’t be able to aggregate contracts, so they would have to trade a member of their Big 3 to make it work. The most obvious trade candidate in this scenario is Beal, the last member to arrive to the Big 3 and the least fitting.

That said, Beal’s salary in 2024-25 ($50.2 million) is nearly perfect for a LeBron sign-and-trade. In 2023-24, James made $46.7 million and he’s due $51.4 million. However, even if James is willing opt out of his contract with the Lakers to play alongside Durant and Booker for $50 million per year, it’s not all up to him. As Beal has a no-trade clause in his contract, he has to sign off on this move.

If he does though, it’ll benefit all parties involved.

James is a better fit than Beal in the Suns’ Big 3 model because he’s a natural facilitator (a pronounced roster need if Beal remains). He also has ample experience playing with Durant due to their summers with Team USA. However, James is also just the better player, now and all-time. Respectfully, his pedigree and ability trump Beal’s any day of the week.

With the Lakers, Beal doesn’t have to be the third wheel. While it was a noble sacrifice, he clearly was underutilized in Phoenix, averaging fewer than 20 points per game for the first time since 2015-16. Due to the organization’s proud history and the presence of Anthony Davis, he’ll also get his wish of playing for a contender. Not to mention that LA could still try to swing a trade for a third star.


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