After a wave of various uncertainties, now it becomes official. The first big blow for the Los Angeles Lakers ahead of the season’s restart has come: guard Avery Bradley has reportedly decided to sit out the season.
Here’s ESPN senior reporter Adrian Wojnaworski breaking the news:
Los Angeles Lakers guard Avery Bradley has opted-out of playing in the NBA’s Orlando restart of the season, Bradley told ESPN on Tuesday night.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 24, 2020
In his statement, Bradley said that he wants to be with his family to assure their well-being. He also promised to help his community:
“As committed to my Lakers teammates and the organization as I am, I ultimately play basketball for my family. And so, at a time like this, I can’t imagine making any decision that might put my family’s health and well-being at even the slightest risk.
“As promised also, I will use this time away to focus on the formation of projects to help strengthen my communities.”
Bradley is now the fourth player to opt out of the restart plan, joining Washington Wizards forward Davis Bertans, Portland Trail Blazers forward Trevor Ariza, and free agent big man DeMarcus Cousins. The decision also came after reports that Denver Nuggets All-Star big man Nikola Jokic tested positive for COVID-19 while in Serbia.
Now in his 10th season in the league, Bradley has established himself as a defensive guard with aggressive slashing ability and reliable outside shooting. He has also earned two All-Defensive team selections.
All that has translated well this year with the Purple and Gold, and it quickly made him an integral part of the Lakers’ supporting cast for LeBron James and Anthony Davis. He started in 44 of his 49 games this season and averaged 8.6 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.3 assists in 24.3 minutes of play. One of his best performances on the year was during their big win over hometown rival LA Clippers days before the hiatus, where he buried six three-pointers and totalled a season-high 24 points.
What’s even more concerning is that it might be just the start. The Lakers may need to really dig deep in the free agent pool as they are also anxiously waiting for Dwight Howard’s announcement, who, like Bradley, is a vital part of the rotation and has long been thinking about sitting out the season.
As part of the NBA’s rules for the restart plan, Bradley’s decision has opened up one roster spot for the Lakers. They can sign any free agent who’s was under an NBA or G-League contract over the last two seasons.
Among the top choices for the position include Jamal Crawford, Allen Crabbe, Trey Burke, and James’s former teammates with the Cleveland Cavaliers – Iman Shumpert and JR Smith.