Bronny James

And-Ones: NBA Schedule, Scoring Record, Bronny James

The process of creating the NBA schedule, which was released earlier today, begins in earnest in early July, Gene Li, the NBA’s Senior Director, National Broadcast Lead, tells Katie Heindl of Uproxx. The league starts collecting open arena dates from teams in the fall, but the process of putting games on the board doesn’t get underway until after the draft and the early days of free agency.

An emphasis in recent years has been reducing the amount of air travel that teams have to endure. In total, there are 50,000 fewer travel miles in this year’s schedule and there are 88 instances with no travel, where road teams either play the same opponent twice in a row or they stay in the same city and face the Knicks and Nets or Lakers and Clippers.

“In the past we actually had reservations about doing those,” Li said. “We weren’t sure how the teams would feel, both competitively and having the same opponent visit your market for two nights, but with these past two seasons and the small sample size, we’ve seen that there really isn’t a downside from a competitive standpoint. So we’ll keep monitoring that for the seasons to come, but we’re glad it’s working out, that the teams like it and that it’s had that positive impact on travel.”

There’s more news from around the basketball world:

  • The ESPN staff picked out highlights from this season’s schedule, including Ben Simmons‘ return to Philadelphia on November 22 and Rudy Gobert‘s return to Utah on December 9. Zach Harper of The Athletic also includes those matchups on his list of the most anticipated games of 2022/23.
  • One of the NBA’s most hallowed records is likely to fall this season as LeBron James is on pace to overtake Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the league’s all-time scoring leader. An ESPN story examines the timeline for James, who is 1,325 points behind and will need 49 games if he maintains his career scoring average of 27.1 PPG. L.A.’s 49th game is January 25 against the Spurs, but ESPN notes that injuries prevented James from reaching the 49-game mark until the Lakers’ 67th contest of last season. That will take place March 10 against the Raptors.
  • James took to social media to dispute a report that Oregon has “emerged as the front-runner to land a commitment” from his son, Bronny James, writes Geoffrey C. Arnold of The Oregonian. Bronny will be a senior at Sierra Canyon High School in Chatsworth, California, and LeBron has expressed a desire to play on the same team with him in the NBA. “He hasn’t taken 1 visit yet and has only had a few calls with coaches and universities,” James tweeted. “When Bronny makes his choice you’ll hear it from him.”

And-Ones: Bronny, Ataman, Teodosic, Instagram

A lot of high-profile college programs are pursuing Bronny James, the son of LeBron James, according to ESPN national recruiting director Paul Biancardi (Insider link).

There’s a “strong feeling” that Bronny James will go the college route next year, according to Biancardi, with UCLA, USC, Michigan, Oregon and Ohio State among the teams recruiting him. LeBron has said his dream is to finish his NBA career playing with his son, who will be draft-eligible in 2024.

We have more from around the international basketball world:

  • The EuroLeague’s reigning coach of the year Ergin Ataman says it’s unlikely he’ll wind up as an NBA head coach, he indicated an interview with Turkish digital channel VOLE (hat tip to Eurohoops.net). “My goal to go to the NBA has decreasing chances because I see that the NBA is a different world,” he said. “… Their perspective of basketball head coaches in Europe is very different. No European coach has ever gone from Europe to the NBA as a head coach. There is no NBA history, zero.” 
  • Former NBA guard Milos Teodosic had an agreement in place with Serbia’s Crvena Zvevda but it was nixed by Virtus Bologna, according to Sportando. Crvena Zvezda president Nebojsa Covic made that assertion in a Pink TV interview. “I’ve spoken at length with Teodosic and we agreed on pretty much everything about him joining us,” he said. “It was Virtus who said no, because it would have made things difficult for the club and because their supporters are fond of Teodosic.”
  • In the Instagram world, the NBA is much more popular than any other U.S. professional league. The NBA officially surpassed 70 million followers on Instagram, making it a top-10 most-followed brand on the platform, according to Alex Kennedy of Basketball News. The NBA has more followers than all the other major American sports leagues combined — the NFL (25 million), MLB (8.9 million) and NHL (5.5 million).

Pacific Notes: James, Anthony, Howard, Crowder

Bronny James will be eligible for the draft in 2024, and LeBron James‘ desire to play with his son could affect his decision regarding an extension, as Joe Vardon of The Athletic explains. James, who could be an unrestricted free agent after next season, can sign a two-year, $98MM extension with the Lakers this offseason.

The easiest way for LeBron and Bronny to play together is for LeBron to be a member of the team that drafts Bronny. The Lakers will likely have to commit to doing what it takes to draft his son in order for an extension to be reached. Vardon, noting that L.A. doesn’t currently control its 2024 first-round pick, suggests that the team may have to consider a trade bringing in a ’24 first-rounder, even though Bronny doesn’t currently project as a first-round prospect.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Many veteran players who saw action for the Lakers last season are still unsigned. ESPN’s Dave McMenamin takes a look at those players, including Carmelo Anthony, Avery Bradley and Dwight Howard, and explores which teams might have an interest in them.
  • A tweet from the Suns’ Jae Crowder created a stir, Jeremy Cluff of the Arizona Republic notes. Crowder wrote “Change is inevitable.. Growth is optional.!! I believe its time for a change… I wanna continue growing!” That fueled speculation that he wants to be traded. Crowder is entering his walk year and has been the subject of trade rumors, particularly involving one of his former teams, the Heat. The Suns are above the tax line and might look to shed some salary.
  • In case you missed it, Steve Kerr and Draymond Green played instrumental roles in convincing JaMychal Green to sign with the Warriors. Get the details here.

LeBron James: “The Door’s Not Closed” On A Potential Return To Cleveland

With LeBron James back in Cleveland for All-Star Weekend, he offered a hint that he might consider returning for one more stint with his hometown team, writes Jason Lloyd of The Athletic. When asked about playing for the Cavaliers again before he retires, James gave an open-ended response.

“The door’s not closed on that,” he said. “I’m not saying I’m coming back and playing, I don’t know. I don’t know what my future holds. I don’t even know when I’m free.”

James has one season remaining on his current deal with the Lakers at $44,474,988. He could be back on the free agent market in the summer of 2023 at age 38.

James emphasized that he hasn’t specifically pondered a return to Cleveland, but he also hasn’t ruled anything out. Lloyd notes that he could be referring to a simple one-day contract so he could retire as a Cavalier, but he could also mean something more.

The Cavs selected James with the first pick in the 2003 draft, and he spent seven years with the team before leaving for Miami as a free agent in 2010. He returned four years later and took the Cavaliers to four straight NBA Finals, capturing the franchise’s only championship in 2016, before departing for Los Angeles.

Although the Lakers won a title in 2020, Cleveland may have a brighter future than L.A. The Cavaliers have rebuilt since James left and are fourth in the East at 35-23 with plenty of youth on the roster. The Lakers, whose roster is stocked with veterans, are ninth in the West at 27-31.

“I think (Cavs general manager Koby Altman) and those guys have done an unbelievable job drafting and making trades,” James said. “I think big fella (Jarrett Allen), that acquisition was amazing for them to make that trade. Obviously Darius Garland is a big-time player. And I think the role that Kevin (Love) is playing right now has kind of uplifted those young guys, seeing a veteran that could sacrifice, a champion that’s won a championship, all the things that he’s done, to come off the bench and play this role. I am not surprised by anything that they’re doing right now.”

As Lloyd points out, it wouldn’t be easy for Cleveland to open enough cap room to sign James without tearing apart its current core. And James made it clear that he wouldn’t be interested in providing a hometown discount so the Cavs could sign him with their mid-level exception.

“I don’t play mid-level basketball,” he said. “I don’t come back for anything below the top.”

James also revealed today that he plans to play his final NBA season for whichever team winds up with his son, Bronny. Currently a junior in high school, the earliest that Bronny could be draft-eligible is 2024.

“My last year will be played with my son,” James said. “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.”

Pacific Notes: James, Lakers, Batum, Warriors

How much longer does LeBron James want to keep playing? Long enough to make history by playing with his son Bronny, Mark Medina of USA Today tweets. “That’s definitely one of my goals, but that’s a long-term goal,” The Lakers‘ star said. “My son right now is in high school and enjoying what being a teenager is all about. But that would be pretty cool to go on my resume.” Bronny, 16, attends Sierra Canyon in Chatsworth, Calif. and recently had surgery to repair torn meniscus.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Lakers are unlikely to find help via a trade due to salary-cap restrictions and the fact that their best trade pieces are rotation players, Jovan Buha of The Athletic opines. The team could use help at backup center, as well as a large wing with 3-point ability. Their best place to find that would be in the buyout market, with Andre Drummond, P.J. Tucker and Trevor Ariza as possibilities. The Lakers’ reported interest in Drummond was already noted here.
  • Nicolas Batum was looking to redeem himself after his career went sour in Charlotte. The Clippers entered the season seeking redemption after an abrupt dismissal from the postseason. That’s one of the reasons Batum decided to sign with the team, as Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times details. Batum is averaging 9.0 PPG, 4.8 RPG and 2.4 APG in 35 starts this season. He’s on a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal and will re-enter the free agent market this summer.
  • The Warriors would be better off building toward next season rather than making moves to collect more victories this season, Tim Kawakami of The Athletic argues. There’s no reason to use their $9.2MM disabled player exception, especially with the luxury-tax implications it would bring. The better course of action would to give lottery pick James Wiseman ample playing time and wait for the loaded draft.

LeBron James Talks Dec. 22 Start, Health, Kyrie, More

Lakers star LeBron James was surprised when he first heard that the NBA wanted to start the 2020/21 season before Christmas instead of sometime in the new year, he told reporters on Monday. As Mark Medina of USA Today writes, James had to cancel a Christmas vacation that he had planned to take with his family.

“‘Oh, s–t,'” James said when asked to describe his reaction to the news of the December 22 start date. “I’m just being completely honest. I wasn’t expecting that.”

The quick turnaround means that James will get less time to rest than just about any other player in the NBA, since his Lakers played all the way up until October 11, when they beat Miami in Game 6 of the 2020 Finals. James said that he’s fully healthy, but admitted he was “super sore” after the Lakers’ first practice and said he’ll have to be careful about ramping up his activity for the coming season.

“We’re going to be as smart as we can be with making sure my body and making sure I’m ready to be available,” James said. “Obviously every game matters. But we’re competing for something that is high.”

In his media session on Monday and in a an appearance on the Road Trippin’ podcast with former teammates Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye, James addressed several more topics of interest. With the help of stories from Dave McMenamin of ESPN and Bill Oram of The Athletic, here are some of the most noteworthy quotes from LeBron:

On entering the 2020/21 season as defending champions:

“I guess the bull’s-eye just becomes even greater, if that’s even possible. For me personally, the bull’s-eye has always been on my back … since I entered the league. You add in the Laker name on top of that, the Lakers’ franchise, the bull’s-eye has been on this franchise for a long time as well.”

On how his new contract extension lines up his future with that of his son, Bronny James:

“The best thing about it is the year I’ll be a free agent will be the same year my oldest son graduates high school. So I’ll have some options to see, for me personally, what I want to do forward, being around my family, being around my son more or continue to play this game I love with great health and great spirits. We’ll see.”

On his reaction to Kyrie Irving calling Kevin Durant the first teammate he can trust as much as himself to take the final shot of a game:

“Once I got the whole transcript, I was like, ‘Damn,’ I wasn’t like, ‘Oh, you trippin’. I’ve hit game-winning shots my whole life.’ I was not like that. I was like, ‘Damn.’

“Because … I played with Kyrie for three seasons. The whole time when I was there, I only wanted to see him be a MVP of our league. I only cared about his success. And it just didn’t align. It just didn’t align. And we were able to win a championship. That’s the craziest thing. We were still able to win a championship, and we could never align. But I only cared about his well-being, both on and off the floor.

“And it kind of hurt me a little bit.”