Agent says limited NBA draft workouts by Bronny James 'by design'

Why Bronny has only worked out for the Lakers and Suns (1:45)

Jonathan Givony breaks down why Rich Paul says it's OK Bronny James has only worked out for the Suns and Lakers. (1:45)

Sources from a half-dozen NBA teams have told ESPN they've had difficulty securing workouts with 2024 draft prospect Bronny James, but the agent for the former USC guard confirmed James has worked out individually for just two teams at this point -- the Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Lakers -- and said that is by design.

Agent Rich Paul, CEO of Klutch Sports Group, pushed back to ESPN on Wednesday on any notion that James has received different treatment than other players throughout the pre-draft process.

The Suns hold the No. 22 pick and the Lakers have Nos. 17 and 55 in the NBA draft, which will be June 26-27 in New York (ABC/ESPN/ESPN+).

Other NBA teams have told ESPN they are interested in seeing James in a different context and workout setting than the one they scouted at USC.

"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."

Paul pointed to his track record of steering clients to preferable destinations, as he did with Talen Horton-Tucker (No. 46 pick in 2019), Brandon Boston Jr. (No. 51 pick in 2021) and Chris Livingston (No. 58 pick in 2023), who all landed guaranteed deals despite conducting few workouts and being picked late in the draft.

Paul said he also took similar strategies with the likes of first-round selections MarJon Beauchamp (No. 24 pick in 2022) and Darius Garland (No. 5 pick in 2019), shielding his clients from workouts and withholding medical information from teams, something that is now prohibited by the NBA's collective bargaining agreement.

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

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

LeBron James has said in the past that he would like to team with his son, but the Lakers star said after his final game this season that he hasn't "given much thought lately" to playing alongside Bronny. The four-time MVP and four-time NBA champion just completed his 21st season and could become a free agent if he opts out of his contract with the Lakers.

"The young man will decide what he wants to do and how he wants his career to go," LeBron James said at the time.

At the NBA draft combine in May, Bronny said his mindset wasn't on playing with his dad as much as it was "getting to the league."

"LeBron is off this idea of having to play with Bronny," Paul told ESPN. "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.

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

With the draft a week away, Paul says Bronny is likely done with workouts barring something unexpected.

"Lakers and Phoenix, that was it," Paul said. "There could be last-minute stuff, if someone calls me late. We'll see."

Jonathan Givony is an NBA draft expert and the founder and co-owner of DraftExpress.com, a private scouting and analytics service used by NBA, NCAA and international teams.