‘Bronny has earned it,’ JJ Redick says; rookie signs 4-year deal with Lakers, sources say

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

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

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

In response to this, new Lakers coach JJ Redick said: “Rob and I didn’t give Bronny anything. Bronny earned it.”

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

Knecht will wear No. 4, a reference to 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 forward during the draft process, but his team declined because it didn’t believe he would 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 brings something to the team that the Lakers “just don’t have.”

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


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

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

James will join his father and NBA all-time leading scorer LeBron James, who plans to re-sign with Los Angeles, though he said he “never really thought about playing with my dad… that wasn’t my main goal.”

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

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This decision to sign the young James limits Los Angeles’ flexibility and virtually guarantees that they will have to make a trade to add new players.

The Lakers have a few avenues to acquire new talent. If Los Angeles opts to sign a player on a minimum or mid-level non-tax exception 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 make a trade for one or more players who are under contract with another team, as long as they send an equal or greater number of players in the deal.

Why Bronny’s contract makes sense

It’s no surprise that the Lakers signed the young James to a roster contract, even though most late draft picks end up in two spots. For tax-paying teams, though, putting a late pick on the roster makes a lot of sense — we saw it with the Warriors’ Trayce Jackson-Davis and the Bucks’ Chris Livingston, the final two picks in the 2023 draft, a year ago. Having their 14th roster spot tied up with a player making the rookie minimum minimizes the Lakers’ luxury tax penalty and gives them roughly $1 million in extra wiggle room under the first apron, should that become an issue at any point this offseason. John Hollinger, NBA Senior Writer

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(Photo: Ronald Martinez / Getty Images)

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