EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Bronny James rumors further attach to the Suns a week from the NBA Draft

Jun 18, 2024, 6:53 PM | Updated: 7:51 pm

Bronny James of the USC Trojans...

Bronny James #6 of the USC Trojans stands on the court during their game against the California Golden Bears in the first half at Haas Pavilion on February 07, 2024 in Berkeley, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

This will start off with a few disclaimers. Firstly, it seems hard to believe LeBron James would leave 10s of millions of dollars on the table to play with Bronny James, but being a pro athlete and having the ability to play with your oldest son seems like a super cool thing that just might be worth that much money.

Second disclaimer: We here at ArizonaSports.com do not like whipping up fan-generated rumors or spreading aggregated, twisted information. But the information out there probably pushes us beyond that territory.

Third disclaimer: I do not have any strong Bronny opinions! I would guess like everyone else that an undersized athlete with one of the best basketball minds as a father will improve his questionable shot, play hard and make the right plays well enough to be an NBA contributor — in a few years. That doesn’t exactly line up with what the Suns can afford to take a risk on in their current circumstance.

Fourth disclaimer: This isn’t a column with a strong take other than, “It’s interesting!” There will not be asking you to read between the lines. Your guesses after you take in all this information are as good as mine! The point is you can weave some complex conspiracies with what you are about to read.

Onto the information at hand.

James, who averaged 4.8 points as a freshman at USC this past year after recovering from a scary heart issue, will reportedly work out a second time for the Suns this week, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. It is no longer a shrug that they’re giving a fringe draft prospect a look or doing a favor for an agent, like all teams do for anyone without a famous dad.

We’re firmly into this territory: They either have legitimate interest in Bronny James or really are doing agent Rich Paul and Klutch Sports a favor.

Bronny James-to-Suns draft rumors were percolating before Givony’s news

There was a lot more noise — things to shrug away on their own — in the last few days before we found out about the second workout.

“I think Bronny is going in the first round because I think that’s going to be encouraged (by his agency at Klutch),” The Ringer’s Bill Simmons said on his podcast over the weekend. “Encouraged like, if this happens, then this will happen. There’s a lot of Phoenix buzz right now, I’m just going to say it. And I don’t know if it’s real or not.”

Simmons’ podcast partner, Ryen Russillo, asked if he believed the Suns were wanting to draft Bronny with legitimate interest or if they wanted to toy with the Lakers, who have to sweat LeBron James’ potential opt-out.

There’s also the theory that Phoenix, which owns the No. 22 pick, and Los Angeles, which owns the 17th pick, are potentially working in concert with Bronny’s representatives to boost his stock.

“Well, Mat Ishbia has the same media strategist that LeBron and his camp has, Adam Mendelsohn,” Simmons added. “So that makes me a little suspicious. But (they) seem confident he’s getting drafted in the first round. And if you’re Mat Ishbia and the draft sucks, and it’s like let’s get Bronny, if we take Bronny there’s a chance we get LeBron, too, you have to think about it.

“‘Cause I don’t know how many more years LeBron has left — if it’s one or two or three — whatever, he’s an All-NBA guy last year. If that’s your backdoor way to get LeBron to play for you for (a veteran’s minimum contract), you got to explore it.”

Simmons floats theories and guesses on his podcasts, but he does hear things. On a Sept. 22, 2022, podcast, it was Simmons who spoke the name of Mat Ishbia in relation to the Suns’ sale. That was months before word leaked of who was actually lining up to buy the team from Robert Sarver.

If you immediately put up red flags at anything Simmons hears, though, there was also this from Indiana Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle on the Green Light with Chris Long podcast.

The co-hosts asked Carlisle if the Pacers were going to draft James with their picks at 49th and 50th.

“I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict that he goes quite a bit higher than that,” Carlisle said. “I’m not saying who. I don’t want to get a call. I’ve been fined enough this year during the playoffs.”

The Pacers also have the 36th overall selection, by the way. We’re guessing an NBA head coach wouldn’t telegraph that much information about his team’s own intentions, either.

So to reiterate what we know:

– LeBron James has a $51.4 million player option to remain with the Los Angeles Lakers.

– The Suns, in a world where James would test free agency, would financially be unable to offer him anything but a veteran’s minimum contract that for his veteran status would be just more than $3 million.

– Rich Paul, Bronny’s agent, has only set up workouts with the Suns and Lakers so far that we know of. He is dictating which teams he wants to look at his client and has suggested to reporters that the James clan wants to control the landing spot. Bronny will not sign a two-way deal, Paul has said.

– James reportedly has a second workout with Phoenix this week.

– James is widely regarded as a back-end of the draft prospect, showing up 54th on ESPN’s big board and 58th on The Ringer’s.

– NBA circles are whispering to Simmons and to a current NBA head coach that Bronny is going to be drafted significantly higher than his profile says he should be. As in, names of teams are already being spoken about.

Do what you want with this information.

Just prepare for the fringe draft prospect to dominate the news cycle and string the Suns into the discussion until we see what happens on draft day. And if Phoenix drafts or signs Bronny James as an undrafted free agent, then you better start hydrating like hell. As if it’s not hot enough already.

Empire of the Suns

Ryan Dunn #0 of the Phoenix Suns poses for a portrait during the 2024 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot at UNL...

Kellan Olson

Phoenix Suns pick up 1st win of summer league vs. Thunder

The Phoenix Suns pulled out their first win of summer league on Wednesday in a 100-99 final over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

4 days ago

Phoenix Suns owner, Mat Ishbia looks on during the first half of the NBA game against the Oklahoma ...

Kellan Olson

Suns’ Mat Ishbia sees other teams ‘hiding’ from spending in 2nd apron

The Phoenix Suns have continued to zig while other teams zag with the new limitations in place for the NBA's mega-spenders.

5 days ago

(Twitter photo/@Suns)...

Kellan Olson

Oso Ighodaro, David Roddy flash for summer Suns in loss to Pacers

Phoenix Suns second-round pick Oso Ighodaro flashed some of what he is capable of as an NBA-ready player in a loss for the summer Suns.

6 days ago

Devin Booker #15 of the United States drives against Canada in the second half of their exhibition ...

Kellan Olson

Devin Booker, Team USA continue exhibition tour with win over Australia

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker had another solid performance in the Team USA Showcase exhibition tour ahead of the Olympics.

7 days ago

Royce O'Neale of the Phoenix Suns...

Kevin Zimmerman

ESPN’s Marks: Royce O’Neale’s contract details show bargain for Suns

If we're to shrug at how Mat Ishbia cares to spend his money, Royce O'Neale's four-year, $42 million contract is a bargain.

10 days ago

Amen Thompson #29 of the 2024 USA Basketball Men's Select Team guards Devin Booker #15 of the 2024 ...

Kellan Olson

Devin Booker continues to look the part for Team USA vs. Canada

Devin Booker continued to prove why he will be a valuable asset in the Paris Olympics for Team USA in an exhibition win against Canada.

11 days ago

Bronny James rumors further attach to the Suns a week from the NBA Draft