Bronny James

Draft Notes: Ighodaro, Armstrong, Kelly, Bronny, More

Marquette power forward Oso Ighodaro has opted to enter the 2024 NBA draft, he announced on Instagram. Ighodaro’s announcement doesn’t say anything about maintaining his college eligibility, so it sounds like he intends to go pro, forgoing the “super-senior” season granted due to COVID.

The No. 66 prospect on ESPN’s big board, Ighodaro spent four years at Marquette, increasing his role and his production in each season. As a senior in 2023/24, he averaged 13.4 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.3 blocks in 32.5 minutes per game across 36 starts, with a .576 FG%.

Here are a few more draft-related notes and updates, with a focus on early entrants:

  • Villanova sophomore guard Mark Armstrong will test the NBA draft waters this spring, according to an Instagram announcement. Armstrong became a full-time starter for the Wildcats in 2023/24, but put up modest numbers, including 8.4 PPG and 2.4 APG on .417/.282/.776 shooting.
  • Miles Kelly, a junior guard at Georgia Tech, is entering the 2024 draft, according to Jon Chepkevich of Draft Express (Twitter link). Kelly’s shooting numbers dipped across the board in ’23/24, though he still managed to put up 13.9 PPG and 5.5 RPG in 32 games (31.8 MPG).
  • Northwestern junior wing Brooks Barnhizer is testing the draft waters as well, tweets Chepkevich. Barnhizer boosted his scoring average to 14.6 PPG in 2023/24 and earned a spot on the Big Ten All-Defensive team.
  • It appears that Tulane senior guard Sion James will forgo his final year of college eligibility and go pro. He announced on Instagram that he’s entering his name in this year’s draft pool and didn’t mention anything about retaining his eligibility. James, who tested the waters a year ago, averaged 14.0 PPG and 5.4 RPG with a .381 3PT% this past season.
  • South Florida senior forward Kasean Pryor is testing the draft waters while also entering the transfer portal, a source tells Joe Tipton of On3 Sports (Twitter link). Pryor previously played at Boise State and Northwest Florida State College before spending a season with South Florida in ’23/24.
  • Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer spoke to an NBA general manager, another front office executive, and a scout – all from different teams – to get their opinions on Bronny James‘ future. The GM suggested the USC guard would be a first-rounder if he had shot the ball well as a freshman but believes he’s “nowhere near ready” based on what he showed in his first college seasons.

Bronny James To Test NBA Draft Waters

USC guard Bronny James – the son of four-time MVP LeBron James – will declare for the 2024 NBA draft in addition to entering the NCAA transfer portal, he announced today (via Instagram).

LeBron’s oldest son, Bronny spent his first college season at USC in 2023/24. His debut was delayed due to a health scare last July, when he suffered cardiac arrest and had to be rushed to a hospital. While he was eventually cleared to play, he made modest contributions for the Trojans, averaging just 4.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 2.1 assists in 19.3 minutes per game across 25 appearances (six starts).

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link), the plan is for Bronny to visit and work out for NBA teams, then decide based on the feedback he receives whether to remain in the draft and go pro or return to school for at least one more year.

After his cardiac arrest and a procedure to treat a congenital heart defect, the 19-year-old will need to be evaluated and cleared by the NBA’s Fitness to Play panel before he can work out for teams or participate in May’s draft combine, notes ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. However, he’s free to meet with and interview for teams without that clearance.

Once considered by Jonathan Givony of ESPN to be a potential 2024 lottery pick with elite defensive upside, Bronny doesn’t show up in ESPN’s current top-100 list for this year’s draft. The USC freshman seems far less likely to be a one-and-done player than he once did, though agent Rich Paul told ESPN last month that he and Bronny will weigh specific team interest more heavily than draft position. That would mean seeking out the best developmental fit rather than trying to get drafted as high as possible.

Of course, LeBron has long professed a desire to play in the NBA with Bronny, but the Lakers star has dialed back on that talk within the last year or two, stressing that his son will have to make his own decisions and “be his own man,” as Paul told ESPN.

If Bronny does decide to withdraw from the draft and transfer to a new school, Duquesne is one possible landing spot to watch, sources tell Wojnarowski. Dru Joyce, the program’s new head coach, played high school basketball with LeBron and is a longtime family friend, Woj adds.

And-Ones: Harding, Cooper, All-NBA, Kaba, Bronny

Stockton Kings head coach Lindsey Harding has been named the NBA G League Coach of the Year in a vote by G League head coaches and general managers, NBA Communications tweets. Harding is the first woman to win the Coach of the Year award in the NBA G League. She’ll receive the Dennis Johnson Trophy.

Harding was hired to coach Sacramento’s NBAGL affiliate last June. Harding spent the past four seasons as an assistant/player development coach with the NBA’s Kings.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Sharife Cooper has signed with China’s Liaoning Flying Leopards, according to Sportando. Cooper signed a 10-day contract with the Cavaliers in late February but didn’t play at all and didn’t receive a second 10-day contract. He has spent the bulk of this season with the Cavs’ G League team, the Cleveland Charge.
  • Who are the highest-paid players who have never received All-NBA honors? HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto ranks the top 50 in that category, with the TimberwolvesMike Conley ($276.5MM), the Thunder‘s Gordon Hayward ($271MM) and the CelticsJrue Holiday ($259.4MM) topping the list.
  • Alpha Kaba, a 2017 draft-and-stash prospect, has signed with Valencia, the Spanish team tweets. The Rockets acquired the NBA rights to Kaba in a five-team trade last summer, though it appears unlikely that Kaba is planning on an NBA career. The big man had been playing with China’s Jiangsu Dragons.
  • Bronny James has entered the transfer portal, college basketball expert Dick Weiss tweets. Following an underwhelming freshman year at USC, Bronny is considered more likely to stay in college for another year than to be drafted in 2024. LeBron James‘ son posted averages of 4.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists while shooting 36.6% from the field in 25 games for the Trojans.
    [UPDATE: Weiss has since walked back his report on Bronny entering the transfer portal, tweeting that it’s not yet confirmed.]

Lakers Notes: Vincent, Vanderbilt, Bronny, Russell

Lakers guard Gabe Vincent, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in late December, has been cleared for non-contact on-court work, head coach Darvin Ham told reporters today (Twitter link via Khobi Price of The Southern California News Group).

Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic reported on Monday during an appearance on FanDuel’s Run It Back (Twitter video link) that Vincent had progressed to “conditioning and ramping up,” adding that he could return to action as soon as next week. While that remains possible, Ham’s update on Tuesday suggests that the veteran still isn’t taking contact, so he has a little more work to do before he’s ready to suit up.

Vincent, who received a three-year deal worth most of the Lakers’ mid-level exception this season, has been limited to just five appearances due to health issues after having been an important part of Miami’s rotation during the team’s NBA Finals run last spring. He’s owed guaranteed salaries of $11MM in 2024/25 and $11.5MM in ’25/26.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Lakers forward Jarred Vanderbilt, sidelined since February 1 due to a left foot sprain, doesn’t appear to be quite as far along as Vincent in his rehab process. Ham said today that Vanderbilt is making progress but hasn’t yet been cleared for on-court work (Twitter link via Price).
  • With USC’s season nearing its end, Bronny James has yet to establish himself as “any kind of draftable player for 2024,” according to John Hollinger of The Athletic, who writes that the idea of LeBron James teaming up with his son next season in Los Angeles looks increasingly unlikely. The optimal developmental path for Bronny probably involves him remaining in college for at least another year, Hollinger adds.
  • Within the same Athletic story, Hollinger notes that D’Angelo Russell‘s expiring contract has long been viewed as a logical trade asset for the Lakers this offseason, but wonders whether it’s a lock that the point guard will pick up his $18.7MM player option for 2024/25, given how well he has played as of late (22.5 PPG and 6.4 APG on .477/.457/.848 shooting in his past 26 games). If Russell opts out, it could complicate Los Angeles’ plans on the trade market, Hollinger observes, since the team won’t have any other sizable expiring deals.
  • It’s impossible to predict how this Lakers’ season will end, Bill Plaschke writes in a column for The Los Angeles Times. As Plaschke details, a recent stretch that included impressive wins over Oklahoma City, Milwaukee, and Minnesota also featured disappointing losses to potential playoff opponents like Denver and Sacramento. Ham said on Sunday that he believes the team is “trending in the right direction,” but stressed that L.A. must bear down to continue that trend: “Just take things one day at a time, one game at a time.”

And-Ones: Officiating, Stewart, Eubanks, Ntilikina, Bronny

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr once again lamented the way that NBA games are called, suggesting that offensive players get the benefit of the doubt too often, according to Eric Koreen of The Athletic.

“I think there just needs to be a general rule: No bulls–t allowed. Really. It’s the truth,” Kerr said. “And I could go through a tape with you and show you: A guy dribbles off a high ball screen and the defender tries to fight over (the screen) and the guy (with the ball) jumps backwards and the ref calls a foul. Like, what are we doing? Can you imagine calling that in the pickup game? It would start a fight. We just have to get back to (determining) what’s basketball.”

With scoring numbers reaching record heights, NBA executive vice president of basketball operations Joe Dumars confirmed last month that the league has formally launched a review into whether rule changes are necessary to slow that trend and restore the offense/defense balance. Kerr believes that tweaking the way fouls are called would be a good start.

“Let’s make players create an advantage in order to call a foul,” Kerr said. “But we have these exact phrases — ‘illegal guarding position.’ Sometimes a guy will just slam right through the defender and the ref will call a foul on the defender. (The referee will) say, ‘It’s an illegal guarding position.’ The refs have to call that. That’s how they’re judged and taught.

“Like I said, the officials are great. It’s just that we have to recognize what’s happening. I think it’s been about a decade where the offensive players are so smart, they see what’s happening and they’re just completely manipulating the rules to let them go.”

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • TMZ Sports has obtained the Phoenix Police Department incident report on the altercation between Pistons forward/center Isaiah Stewart and Suns center Drew Eubanks. According to the report, Eubanks told police that Stewart confronted him while he was entering the arena due to physical play between the two big men in a previous game. Stewart, who punched Eubanks in the face, was arrested on a misdemeanor assault charge and issued a citation, but Eubanks later told police he wanted the charges dropped, per TMZ.
  • Frank Ntilikina is reportedly looking to return to his home country after being waived by the Hornets last month. Alessandro Maggi of Sportando, relaying a report from French outlet BeBasket, says Ntilikina has been linked to ASVEL and Paris Basketball but would need to be signed as an injury replacement to be eligible suit up for either team down the stretch. The guard is said to be hoping to use the rest of this season to make his case for a spot on the French national team for the Paris Olympics this summer.
  • As he considers whether to enter the 2024 NBA draft or remain at USC, Bronny James is expected to weigh specific team interest more heavily than draft position, agent Rich Paul told Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN over the weekend. That would mean seeking out the best developmental fit rather than trying to get drafted as high as possible. Paul added that getting Bronny on the same team as father LeBron James isn’t a top priority, though LeBron would be “head over heels excited if that were to happen organically.”

And-Ones: LeBron, Bronny, Draft, Stephenson, Cap Space

LeBron James was unhappy that son Bronny James was removed from ESPN’s 2024 draft projections and instead placed in a 2025 mock draft, according to Alex Andrejev and Sam Vecenie of The Athletic. The ESPN story had the younger James going in the second round in 2025.

“Can y’all please just let the kid be a kid and enjoy college basketball,” LeBron wrote in since-deleted posts on social media, adding, “These Mock Drafts doesn’t matter one bit! I promise you! Only the WORK MATTERS!! Let’s talk REAL BASKETBALL PEOPLE!”

LeBron has often stated he wanted to stay in the league long enough to play with his son. Bronny, a freshman at USC, is averaging a modest 5.5 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game through 19 contests and is no longer considered a lock to be a one-and-done prospect.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Speaking of this year’s draft class, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Woo address a number of topics, including the potential of UConn’s Stephon Castle and Donovan Clingan, Houston’s Jamal Shead and Weber State’s Dillon Jones.
  • Lance Stephenson, 10-year NBA veteran, is currently playing for the NBA G League’s Iowa Wolves. Stephenson feels he could help an NBA team in numerous ways if given a chance to play in the league again. “Leadership. Definitely, helping young guys. Winning mentality, just that edge on the defensive end,” Stephenson told Sam Yip of Hoops Hype. “A lot of teams need help with defense, especially during the playoffs. Tough guys that can play defense and lock down and win games. I can bring any edge that a coach needs.”
  • Several teams could have major cap space this summer, with the Sixers, Pistons, Raptors and Magic well-positioned to do some major spending. Hoops Hype’s Mark Deeks breaks down what every team’s cap situation will look like when the offseason arrives.

And-Ones: Edey, 2025 Draft, Bronny, All-Star Game, EuroLeague, Hordges

Purdue’s star center, Zach Edey, will not return to college next season, Boilermakers coach Matt Painter told Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports (Twitter link).

Edey could have stayed for one more season due to the extra year of eligibility granted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The big man is averaging 23.7 points and 11.8 rebounds and might win National Player of the Year honors for the second straight season.

Edey tested the draft waters last summer before deciding to stay in school. He’s currently listed as the No. 13 overall prospect on ESPN’s Best Available list.

We have more news from around the basketball world:

  • While there’s still plenty of mystery about this year’s draft class, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony has already posted a 2025 mock draft with big man Cooper Flagg, who has committed to Duke, as the No. 1 selection. The No. 39 projected pick is an eyebrow raiser: Bronny James. Givony explained on NBA Today (video link) that Bronny “has not produced like a one-and-done player” at USC.  Givony adds that LeBron James‘ son could be a “completely different player” if he returns to college next season.
  • Major League Baseball experimented with its All-Star Game, giving the winning league home field advantage in the World Series. Jalen Brunson suggested a similar solution on his podcast to make the NBA’s All-Star Game more competitive (hat tip to Geoff Magliocchetti of Sports Illustated). “I don’t know if baseball does it anymore, but the winner of the All-Star Game (could get) home-court advantage in the Finals,” he said. “That’s cool. I think that’s one way that could at least make it interesting in the fourth quarter.”
  • EuroLeague championships to be decided in Dubai? It could happen. Abu Dhabi is reportedly offering 75MM to host three editions of the EuroLeague Final Four, according to Sportando. Negotiations are reportedly in the advanced stages.
  • Cedrick Hordges has passed away, NBA Alumni tweets. He played 145 games for the Nuggets from 1980-82 before continuing his pro career in Europe for another 13 seasons.

Lakers Notes: LeBron, Longevity, Bronny, More

The Lakers may be without star forward LeBron James for their first game after the All-Star break, as he’ll be undergoing left ankle treatment this week, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPN. L.A. faces Golden State on Thursday.

An All-Star starter, James played 14 minutes in Sunday’s exhibition game but sat out the second half to manage the ankle injury. He missed his seventh game of the season last Wednesday, the final contest before the break.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • James set a record by being named to his 20th All-Star game in 2023/24. Several young players at All-Star weekend said they were amazed by his remarkable longevity, according to Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times, who notes that seven Rising Stars participants were born after James made his NBA debut, including Jazz rookie Keyonte George. “It’s crazy. There’s a stat when we played him the first time that he was older than our coach (Will Hardy),” George said Friday morning with a laugh. “… All the young guys coming into the league know who Bron is. To me, he’s the best that ever touched the basketball. … The main goal coming into the league is, ‘How can I stay in it for as long as possible?’ Being a good teammate, with your play. The name of the game is longevity. … I think the shot-making ability, not going to the rim all the time, get to their spots, pick them, play with a good pace. I think that helps with longevity and your body. And then it comes down to skill.
  • Appearing on TNT’s Inside the NBA before the All-Star game, James said his son, Bronny James, has yet to decide whether he’ll declare for the 2024 draft, as McMenamin of ESPN relays. Bronny is a freshman guard at USC. “It’s up to him, it’s up to the kid,” LeBron said. “We’re going to go through the whole process. He’s still in season now. He has the Pac-12 tournament coming up. … We’re going to weigh all options and we’re going to let the kid make the decision.”
  • Jovan Buha of The Athletic lists five reasons to be optimistic about the Lakers down the stretch, including the new starting lineup of D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura, James and Anthony Davis. L.A. is 8-2 when those five players have shared the court together, Buha notes, including 5-0 with them starting.

Lakers Rumors: LeBron, Knicks, Bronny, Murray, LaVine, More

At the end of last month, Lakers forward LeBron James sent out an hourglass emoji on social media that led to plenty of speculation — and eventually an unsuccessful trade pursuit by the Warriors. Later that week in New York, James made some not-so-subtle comments about his love for playing in Madison Square Garden and said he considered signing with the Knicks as a free agent in 2010.

While James may have been attempting to put pressure on L.A.’s front office by using New York as leverage, the Knicks haven’t had any internal discussions about pursuing him this summer, a league source tells Sam Amick, Anthony Slater and Jovan Buha of The Athletic.

As The Athletic’s authors explain, the Knicks won’t have cap room in free agency to make a run at James if he declines his $51.4MM player option, and shedding salaries would mean parting with important rotation players. The Knicks view that possibility as a “serious setback to their long-term plan.”

Los Angeles, meanwhile, has no desire to trade James, and wants him to retire a Laker, multiple team sources tell The Athletic. For his part, James recently informed the team’s brass he wants to stay, per The Athletic’s report.

Here’s more on the Lakers, all from Amick, Slater and Buha:

  • Rival executives have become “increasingly convinced” that the 39-year-old superstar may want out of L.A., and view drafting his son Bronny James as something of a starting point to pursuing LeBron, according to The Athletic’s trio. James has spoken many times over the years about his desire to play in the NBA with his son. The Lakers are also open to the possibility of adding Bronny to keep LeBron happy, as that’s a priority for the organization, a high-ranking team source tells the authors.
  • According to The Athletic, James has long been in favor of adding a star-level ball-handler in the backcourt — hence 2021 trade for Russell Westbrook, which obviously worked out poorly. James pushed the front office to pursue Kyrie Irving over multiple transaction windows in the past, and supported the idea of trading for Dejounte Murray (Hawks) or Zach LaVine (Bulls) — two fellow Klutch clients — prior to this season’s deadline, sources tell Amick, Slater and Buha.
  • The Lakers will have three first-round picks available to trade this summer after standing pat at the deadline — either 2024 or 2025 (New Orleans can acquire this year’s pick or defer it to next year), plus 2029 and 2031. As Buha previously reported, L.A. would ideally like to use those draft assets for Donovan Mitchell (Cavaliers), Trae Young (Hawks) or Irving (Mavericks), though it’s unclear how many of those players – if any – will actually be available on the trade market this offseason. For what it’s worth, rival teams have been speculating that Atlanta might be willing to part with Young after holding onto Murray at the deadline.

Spurs, Lakers Leading Suitors For Trae Young?

The Hawks‘ decision to hold onto Dejounte Murray at the trade deadline has rival teams speculating that they might part with Trae Young this summer, Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack column (subscription required). If that happens, Stein expects plenty of suitors to line up, with the Spurs and Lakers possibly leading the way.

Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports published a similar report in the wake of Thursday’s trade deadline and also identified San Antonio and Los Angeles as prospective suitors for Young.

There have been rumors for months that San Antonio might be a realistic location for Young, according to Stein. His ability to stretch the floor would provide more space for Victor Wembanyama to operate, and Wembanyama’s size and shot-blocking could help cover up for Young’s shortcomings on defense. Stein states that it’s “believed in some corners of the league” that Young would be interested in joining the Spurs if Atlanta decides to move him.

Stein also cites the Lakers as a potential destination, considering that Anthony Davis is a good complement for Young’s skills as well. L.A. was rumored to be among the leading contenders to acquire Murray, and general manager Rob Pelinka will have a lot more trade ammunition to work with during the offseason.

“In terms of what was available at the trade deadline, we had one first-round draft pick,” Pelinka said after this year’s deadline passed. “It was our only sort of hook to fish with. And this summer in June, at the time of the draft, we’ll have three first-round draft picks to look for deals, which I think will really unlock an access to potentially a greater or bigger swing.”

Stein points out that the Lakers aren’t completely sure about the future of LeBron James, who faces a decision on a $51.4MM player option. While it seems likely that he’ll choose to take the money, the organization is preparing for all scenarios, according to Stein, and the draft prospects of his son, USC freshman Bronny James, could enter into the equation.

Bronny is no longer considered a first-round prospect, but Stein hears that at least two teams — and possibly more — believe LeBron would considering signing with them for much less than his option figure if they were to select his son in the second round.

If that were to happen, Stein adds, the Lakers would need a marquee name like Young to take his place and Pelinka would be relieved that he held onto the 2027 first-rounder at the deadline.