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Bronny James works out for Lakers ahead of NBA draft; other draft news, notes

NCAA Basketball: Southern California at California

Feb 7, 2024; Berkeley, California, USA; USC Trojans guard Bronny James (6) dribbles the ball against the California Golden Bears during the second half at Haas Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Robert Edwards-USA TODAY Sports

Robert Edwards-USA TODAY Sports

Despite all the rumors and flirtation by other teams, it has been the expectation around the league that the Lakers would end up drafting Bronny James in the second round. This works for Los Angeles on two levels: Bronny is a legitimate NBA prospect and the kind of player worth taking a shot on after pick 40, and it keeps his father, LeBron James, happy (LeBron can be a free agent this summer).

Bronny worked out for the Lakers on Thursday, reports Dan Woike at the Los Angeles Times.

James worked out for the Lakers on Thursday, according to people with knowledge of the situation not authorized to speak publicly. His athleticism, defensive potential and shooting at the Chicago draft combine have interested the Lakers, who could help make history by pairing him with his father, should LeBron James remain on the team (he can opt out and become a free agent this summer).

The Lakers are not going to use their No. 17 pick in the first round on James, but they have the No. 55 pick in the second round, plus they could trade assets to get a pick in the 40s if they wanted. Nothing is ever certain, but look for the Lakers to select Bronny in the second round of the 2024 NBA Draft and make him and LeBron the first-ever father/son duo in the NBA (even if Bronny likely spends much of his first season in the G-League).

In other NBA draft News:

• Atlanta likes Donovan Clingan. Could he be the No. 1 pick? In Dan Hurley’s post-Lakers rejection media tour, he stopped by CBS Sports and, when talking about other basketball coaches he speaks with, let this slip:

“Quin Snyder is a really smart guy who, I know that [the Atlanta Hawks] really like Donovan [Clingan], so I was able to kind of talk to them about Donovan, but then also to pick his brain in large part.”

Hurley coached Clingan at UConn, and it’s standard operating procedure for the coach/front office of a team considering drafting a player to talk to his coach about the player. This is interesting because Atlanta has the No. 1 pick — would they consider using it on Clingan? Or, is this part of the smokescreen, there have been rumors the Hawks would be willing to trade down a few spots if a team offered enough to jump up to No. 1 and draft French wing Zaccharie Risacher (or whomever). The Hawks might be able to draft Clingan with that later pick if it were in the top five.

• Trail Blazers, Cavaliers and Raptors rumored to want to move up in draft. This may be considered a down draft without a lock All-Star level player at the top, but that isn’t stoping teams from wanting to trade up. On The Ringer’s NBA draft Show podcast, Kevin O’Connor and J. Kyle Mann discussed all three of these teams — particularly the rebuilding Trail Blazers, who have the No. 7 and 14 picks — looking to move up in the draft. For a rebuilding team, taking a flier on some of the high upside players near the top of the draft (like Alex Sarr or Zaccharie Risacher) might make sense.

• Terrence Shannon Jr. found not guilty of rape charge. Illinois guard Terrence Shannon Jr. intrigues a lot of teams drafting later in the first round as a guy who could step in and help now, but a 2023 rape charge from Kansas hung over the player. On Thursday, Shannon was found not guilty of that charge. Shannon is older at 23 but comes with an NBA-ready body, NBA athleticism and an ability to defend 1-3, the concerns are about his shot.

• 2024 NBA Draft Green Room. ESPN reports these are the players already invited to the 2024 NBA Draft Green Room (meaning these players are at the draft and invited on stage): Zaccharie Risacher, Alex Sarr, Donovan Clingan, Reed Sheppard, Matas Buzelis, Stephon Castle, Dalton Knecht, Tidjane Salaun, Ron Holland, Cody Williams, Devin Carter and Ja’Kobe Walter