MNO Sports >Cycling Trails >Rich Paul squashes LeBron James and Bronny package deal rumor, says limited pre-draft visits are 'by design' - CBSSports.com

Rich Paul squashes LeBron James and Bronny package deal rumor, says limited pre-draft visits are 'by design' - CBSSports.com

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Rich Paul, the founder of Klutch Sports Group and agent to numerous superstars, including LeBron James, told ESPN on Wednesday that there is no package deal between James and his son, Bronny James. Furthermore, he indicated his plan to shield the younger James from draft workouts with numerous teams is intentional. 

Jonathan Givony reported on Tuesday that teams have had trouble securing workouts with Bronny James ahead of the 2024 NBA Draft, which will be held from June 26-27. Bronny has so far just worked out with the Lakers and Suns. Paul confirmed that and said he is doing so in order to ensure that Bronny gets to a team that's a good fit and will offer him a guaranteed deal. 

Throughout this process, Paul has been consistent that he does not want Bronny on a two-way contract. 

"This is nothing new," Paul said. "The goal is to find a team that values your guy and try to push him to get there. It's important to understand the context and realize that this has always been the strategy with many of my clients throughout the years, especially those in need of development like Bronny. My stuff is by design."

"Bronny is the same as my previous clients," Paul added. "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. 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. 

"If Bronny's name was Charles Jacobsen and he was my client -- I would do the same thing: identify teams that have real interest."

Bronny is widely projected to be selected in the second round next week. CBS Sports' Kyle Boone has him going No. 43 to the Miami Heat in his latest mock draft. 

Over the past few months, there has been speculation about a team taking Bronny earlier than expected in an effort to entice LeBron to sign with them as a free agent. LeBron is expected to decline his player option for next season and become an unrestricted free agent, and had previously spoken about his desire to play with his son. Paul addressed LeBron's latest thinking to ESPN.

"LeBron is off this idea of having to play with Bronny," Paul said Wednesday. "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."

While the Suns have had Bronny in for a workout, their only pick of the draft is No. 22, and it remains to be seen if they'd be willing to reach that high for him, especially after Paul's comments regarding LeBron's free agency. Unless another team decides to throw caution to the wind, the most likely destination remains the Lakers, who just so happen to have the No. 55 overall pick -- exactly in Bronny's projected range. 

Paul, however, did specifically mention three other potential draft night landing spots for Bronny in his interview: the Raptors, Mavericks and Timberwolves.

"There are other teams that love Bronny. For example, Minnesota, Dallas, Toronto. If it's not the Lakers, it will be someone else," Paul said. "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."

Bronny missed the beginning of his freshman season for USC after suffering a sudden cardiac arrest last summer. After being cleared by doctors, he made his debut in December and played 25 games for the Trojans, averaging 4.8 points and 2.8 rebounds. 

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