Raptors rumors: Latest reports suggest Toronto could be a popular trade partner

The Toronto Raptors have a prized asset that could be sought after on the trade market as the NBA seeks the famous son of LeBron James ahead of the 2024 Draft
Bronny James, USC
Bronny James, USC / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

At first blush, it may not seem that the media storm around LeBron James Jr., more commonly known as "Bronny" James, has much of anything to do with the Toronto Raptors. Unless they are going to draft the freshman guard with the most famous of lineages, another franchise can tune into every talking head show on ESPN and NBA TV to hear the latest about a presumed second-round pick.

The latest rumor, however, suggests that the Raptors could benefit from interest in LeBron James' oldest son.

Bronny James is the talk of the NBA Draft

Bronny James has been followed as a draft prospect for years, and while he clearly has some of his dad's athleticism and basketball IQ, his body has never developed to the point of becoming a dominant NBA player; at last week's NBA Draft Combine he measured 6'1" tall, a far cry from his father's 6'8" frame.

In Bronny's favor, other than his lineage, is that a poor freshman season at USC can be explained in part by a dysfunctional roster around him and in part by a cardiac incident he had during the summer before the year. For Bronny to have returned and played at all is remarkable.

Yet even an optimistic view on Bronny slots him clearly into the second-round mix; many draft analysts and scouts have him much lower. The reason his name is on every basketball website, the reason First Take and Get Up and every sports show is discussing him, the reason his media availability at the combine resembled the wildebeest stampede from The Lion King, is that Bronny James is the son of LeBron James.

As the discourse around Bronny James reaches a fever pitch, one report actually gets specific. According to Krysten Peek, NBA Draft Analyst for Yahoo Sports, the Utah Jazz are interested in bringing in Bronny for a workout and are considering drafting him with the 32nd pick.

Whether or not the Jazz, led by longtime Boston Celtics decision-maker Danny Ainge, would actually draft Bronny James is somewhat beside the point. If teams believe that the Jazz would, or at least that there is a very real chance that they would, suddenly the 31st pick becomes the pivot point of the second round.

To ensure the ability to draft Bronny James teams will now need to leap up to the 31st pick to get ahead of the Jazz. Whether it's the Los Angeles Lakers trying to encourage LeBron James to commit to the franchise for the rest of his career, or another team trying to draft Bronny to encourage LeBron to sign with them, there will likely be real interest from teams in reaching the 31st pick.

A pick, originally held by the Detroit Pistons, that is now in the hands of the Toronto Raptors.

The Toronto Raptors have a lucrative bargaining chip

The Detroit Pistons had the worst record in the NBA this season, and while that didn't guarantee them the top pick in the first round -- in fact, the Pistons slid to fifth after the Draft Lottery -- it does guarantee them the first pick of the second round. Or at least, it would if they had not traded that pick years ago.

The Pistons took part in a deal in November of 2020 that sent Luke Kennard and a fruit basket filled with second-round picks to the LA Clippers in exchange for a first-round pick that they used on Saddiq Bey. The following year, the Clippers traded up to draft forward Keon Johnson, sending the Knicks the Pistons' 2024 second-round pick in the process. That pick was then included in this past year's OG Anunoby trade, sent along with Immanuel Quickley and RJ Barrett to Toronto.

That's quite the circuitous route for the pick, which could be on the move once again. The hype around Bronny James is real, and teams seem to be truly buying into the allure of drafting him. The draft range on a player being drafted for something other than his draft bona fides is wide open, and teams may well believe they have to get to 31 to ensure they get the opportunity to draft him.

The intrigue will only increase at the NBA Draft itself, as the NBA has made it into a two-night event. If the first night and First Round end with Bronny James still on the board, an entire night and day of conversation will ensue about which team could take James. All the while, the Raptors will get to field trade offers for the 31st -- not only from teams interested in Bronny, but also teams that see a player they like and want to get in front of the pack.

The Raptors and their fans have to be disappointed that they lost their lottery pick this year, sending the eighth pick to the San Antonio Spurs due to the Jakob Poeltl trade. Knowing that they have the most lucrative of second-round picks, however, can help apply salve to the wound.

If Bronny James is indeed drafted this year, do not be surprised if the pick used to take him passes through the Raptors' hands as they benefit for the first time from the career of LeBron James.

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