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Avery Bradley Latest Player to Opt Out of NBA Restart Next Month

As the NBA steams toward their hopeful return to complete the 2019-20 season with action coming from the Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World next month, there continues to be a lot of chatter about how things may unfold. Players have been expectedly cautious about it, given the recent spike of COVID-19 cases in the Sunshine State, and weighing the decision between taking the floor in search of a potential championship or taking a seat at home and forfeiting some cold hard cash in the interests of trying to ensure their chances of avoiding the coronavirus. It’s a tough decision to make for certain.

On Tuesday, the list of players stepping out on the league’s return grew by one as Avery Bradley of the Lakers informed the team that he will not be taking part. He told ESPN that his reasoning for stepping aside was family-related as his six-year old has a history of having issues with recovering from respiratory illnesses. The general consensus was that he wouldn’t have been medically cleared to enter the bubble in Orlando, helping Bradley make his decision. In his comments, Bradley said:

"As committed to my Lakers teammates and the organization as I am, I ultimately play basketball for my family," Avery Bradley said. "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.”

With Bradley out of the mix, the Lakers likely will turn to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to take his spot in the starting lineup. One of the players that Los Angeles may look to bring in to replace Bradley is one that is familiar with LeBron James in the presence of J.R. Smith. Smith hasn’t played at all this season and logged just 11 games in 2018-19 before basically being banished by the Cavaliers. On the plus side, he’s a known commodity that can shoot from the outside, which could help take some heat off James and Anthony Davis offensively. Flipping the coin, he hasn’t played a NBA game in nearly 20 months, as he last suited up on November 19, 2018. In addition, he turns 35 on September 9 so who knows how much he can contribute with his aging legs and the rust that has built up.

Bradley was averaging 8.6 points plus 2.3 rebounds a night while starting 44 games for the Lakers this season. One has to wonder if he’s more interested in being a social activist and that’s part of the reason why he chose not to play. While the health concerns of his son are valid, Bradley was outspoken on conference calls along with Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving, about topics such as social justice, racial equality and empowerment. Irving wasn’t going to play to begin with after having shoulder surgery earlier this year and now Bradley has decided to follow suit by choosing to stay home.

Bradley becomes the third player to step aside and choose not to take part in the restart of the season. Washington’s Davis Bertans made the decision to sit out in order to avoid an injury that could impede his impending free agency while Trevor Ariza of Portland is staying home to take care of his son as the league has mandated that no guests or family members enter the bubble until the conclusion of the opening round of the playoffs, thereby reducing the number of teams from 22 to eight. That would free up plenty of accommodations for guests and family members.

With today (June 24) being the deadline for players to notify teams if they are going to play or not in Orlando, it will be interesting to see who else may decide to exit stage left rather than hit the floor.

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Chris Kubala

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