‘Bronny has earned this,’ JJ Redick says; rookie signs 4-year contract with Lakers, per sources

By Shams Charania, John Hollinger, Hunter Patterson and Lauren Merola

Lakers rookie Bronny James had a “surreal” week since being drafted by Los Angeles with the 55th pick in the 2024 NBA Draft on Thursday, he said alongside Dalton Knecht at the rookies’ introductory news conference Tuesday.

“(I’m) just trying to take it all in,” James said. “(I’m) extremely grateful for everything that JJ (Redick) and Rob (Pelinka) have given to me and I’ve just been extremely excited to get to work.”

To that, new Lakers coach JJ Redick said, “Rob and I did not give Bronny anything. Bronny has earned this.”

Redick said both rookies will play in both the California Classic and Las Vegas summer leagues. The Lakers’ first summer league game is Saturday in San Francisco. They face the Sacramento Kings at 4:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Knecht will wear No. 4, channeling the new nickname “Connect 4,” and James will wear No. 9.

The Lakers selected Knecht with the 17th pick. The team requested a workout with the 6-foot-6, 212-pound wing during the draft process, but his camp declined because it didn’t think he’d be available midway through the first round. Redick said he also didn’t think Knecht would be there when the Lakers were on the clock, but the 23-year-old adds something to the team the Lakers “just don’t have.”

“I know all the players and teams, but I’m just excited to be here in the right place and excited to get to work here and go out and compete,” Knecht said.


The Lakers were stunned and thrilled to land Dalton Knecht with the 17th pick

James signed a four-year rookie contract with the Lakers that’s worth $7.9 million and includes a team option in the fourth season, league sources said Wednesday.

James is set to join his father and NBA all-time scoring leader LeBron James — who plans to re-sign with Los Angeles — though he said he “never really had a thought of me going to play with my dad … that wasn’t a main focus of mine.”

The Lakers also re-signed guard Max Christie to a four-year, $32 million contract. With LeBron’s impending decision to re-sign, the Lakers will have the maximum 15 players with guaranteed contracts.



Bronny James is now a Laker. Here’s what lies ahead in his NBA career

This move to sign the younger James limits Los Angeles’ flexibility and all but ensures it will have to make a trade to add any new players.

The Lakers have a few avenues to acquire new talent. If Los Angeles opts to sign a player to a nontaxpayer midlevel exception or minimum contract, it would have to make a trade to create a roster spot or execute a sign-and-trade while sending a player back. The Lakers could also trade for a player or players under contract with another team, so long as they send out an equal or greater number of players in the deal.

Why Bronny’s contract makes sense

It’s not a shock that the Lakers signed the younger James to a roster contract, even though most late draft picks end up on two-ways. For tax teams, however, rostering a late pick makes a lot of sense — we saw it with the Warriors’ Trayce Jackson-Davis and the Bucks’ Chris Livingston, the last two picks in the 2023 draft, a year ago. Having their 14th roster spot committed to a player making the rookie minimum minimizes the Lakers’ luxury tax penalty, and gives them roughly a million dollars in extra wiggle room below the first apron, should that become an issue at any point this offseason. — John Hollinger, senior NBA writer

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(Photo: Ronald Martinez / Getty Images)

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