LOS ANGELES—On Tuesday, June 23, Lakers guard Avery Bradley announced that he will not play during the NBA’s season restart in Orlando, Florida, noting his desire to remain with his family as the reason behind his decision.
Bradley’s oldest son, Liam, 6, has a history of struggling to recover from respiratory illnesses, making him an unlikely candidate to be medically cleared to enter the NBA’s bubble under the health and safety protocols. Including Liam, Bradley and his wife Ashley have two other children.
Since his arrival this past offseason, Bradley has been a key player for Los Angeles as a two-way player. He started in 44 of 49 games for the Lakers this season, averaging 8.6 points, 1.3 assists and 2.3 rebounds. He shot 44 percent from the field which included a 36 percent mark from behind the three-point line. The Lakers are currently the No. 1 team in the Western Conference with an overall record of 49-14.
Los Angeles went 12-1 earlier this season when Bradley was sidelined for 13 games nursing an ankle injury between November and December 2019. Back-up guard Kentavious Caldwell Pope took over Bradley’s starting position in his absence and contributed six-straight double-digit games in light of his increased role. It is yet to be indicated by head coach Frank Vogel who will be taking on the brunt of Bradley’s minutes.
Bradley has also been one of the more vocal leaders on players’ concern over the season’s restart and pushed for the league to focus on issues of social injustice and empowerment. He in addition to Boston Celtic’s guard Kyrie Irving has led a player’s coalition of 80-plus players to address these concerns.
“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,” Bradley said to ESPN. “As promised also, I will use this time away to focus on the formation of projects to help strengthen my communities.”
Bradley is in his first season of a two-year $9.7 million contract, which includes a player option for the second year. According to ESPN, by sitting out for the season restart, Bradley will lose about $650,000 in salary. The Lakers will be able to sign another player to replace Bradley for the remainder of the season on July 1, when they submit their official roster noting that the guard will be out.
It is unsure who the Lakers will sign, but early reports suggest J.R. Smith could be a potential free-agent target, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Smith played with LeBron James in Cleveland for four seasons, which included an NBA title in 2016. Smith has not appeared in an NBA game since November 2018. Smith was released by the Cavaliers on July 15, 2019 and has been a free agent since.
The NBA’s season restart is scheduled to begin on July 31, with an eight-game regular season. Teams are reportedly scheduled to arrive at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex between July 7-11.