Los Angeles Lakers guard Avery Bradley, a leading voice in player faction opposing the NBA’s reboot, has opted out of rejoining the team in Disney World for the rest of the season, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
While Bradley was reportedly in agreement with Kyrie Irving that the NBA’s reboot would take away from the players’ fight against racial injustice, ESPN reports that the main factor of Bradley’s decision is the wellbeing of his oldest child.
Bradley’s 6-year-old son Liam reportedly has a history of respiratory illness and would be unlikely to be cleared to enter the NBA bubble. With the Lakers in position for a deep playoff run, joining the team would likely have meant dividing Bradley’s family.
Bradley’s statement, from ESPN:
"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 has started 44 games for the Lakers this season and was averaging 8.6 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game before the NBA went on hiatus. The 29-year-old was an NBA first-team All-Defense selection in 2016 with the Boston Celtics.
Per ESPN, Bradley stands to lose $650,000 in salary for sitting out the rest of the season.
The veteran isn’t the only NBA player to opt out of the reboot, and he might not be the only Laker either. Dwight Howard reportedly has reservations about rejoining the team as well, and who knows what other players have issues with the bubble like Bradley’s.
J.R. Smith reportedly a leading candidate to replace Bradley
With Bradley out, the Lakers will have 24.2 minutes per game to replace in their backcourt. One possibility to help cover that gap is a good friend of LeBron James.
J.R. Smith, who won a championship in 2016 with James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, is a leading candidate to replace Bradley, according to Wojnarowski.
Smith has not played in the NBA this season, and was last seen beating up an alleged truck vandal in the streets of Los Angeles. He wouldn’t be a one-to-one replacement for Bradley, as the Lakers will have the option of stretching the minutes of players like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Quinn Cook and Alex Caruso.
Davis Bertans, Trevor Ariza also opting out of NBA bubble
In addition to Bradley, Washington Wizards forward Davis Bertans and Portland Trail Blazers wing Trevor Ariza have both turned down the opportunity to play in Disney World, though the stakes are different with both of their teams currently out of the playoffs.
Bertans’ absence is due to a history of ACL injuries and the likelihood that a lucrative long-term contract awaits him in free agency this offseason. Ariza is sitting out due to a one-month visitation window with his 12-year-old son as part of an ongoing custody battle.
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