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Lakers guard Avery Bradley opts out of NBA restart

Lakers guard Avery Bradley defends Mavericks guard Luka Doncic during game earlier this season.
(Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press)

The Lakers will be without at least one key player when the NBA season resumes in Florida next month.

Avery Bradley will not be joining the team, according to a person familiar with his plans.

Bradley told ESPN on Tuesday night that the primary reason for his decision was the health of his 6-year-old son Liam, who has a respiratory condition that makes him high risk if he were to contract COVID-19.

“As committed to my Lakers teammates and the organization as I am, I ultimately play basketball for my family,” Bradley told ESPN. “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.

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“As promised also, I will use this time away to focus on the formation of projects to help strengthen my communities.”

Bradley’s decision opens a roster spot for the Lakers, who are considering JR Smith to replace him, according to people familiar with their plans. Smith worked out for the Lakers in March on the same day as Dion Waiters, who they eventually signed. Smith has also been working out with Lakers players recently.

The Lakers signed Bradley last summer and he became a starterfor 44 of the 49 games he played. He was critical to their defensive efforts and when he was out with injury the Lakers struggled. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope replaced Bradley in the starting lineup. Bradley averaged 8.6 points and 2.3 rebounds in 24.2 minutes per game.

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The decision did not come as a surprise to Bradley’s teammates, many of whom had not been able to reach him in the past week. Bradley told ESPN on June 16 that he would like to see the NBA commit to real change to address racial inequity both in the league and society. He was part of a coalition started by Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving that urged players to think about whether or not they wanted to play in Florida for the resumption of the season.

There was concern among some players that the league’s return would detract from the social justice movement that followed the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

The New York Knicks get an OK to interview the Lakers’ Jason Kidd for their head coaching vacancy, according to people familiar with the situation.

Several players in the NBA participated in the protests that followed and some tried to contribute in other ways. LeBron James helped organize a voting rights organization called “More Than A Vote.” The organization launched its website Tuesday in an effort to fight voter suppression in Black communities with the help of the voices of prominent athletes and entertainers.

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Lakers teammate Dwight Howard also expressed concerns about returning to play. Howard released two statements in the last week and a half — one that said “Basketball, or entertainment period, isn’t needed at the moment.” His second statement clarified that he and the other players expressing concerns were not trying to stop the resumption of the season, but they wanted to give players a safe space to discuss their concerns and act as they saw fit.

There is a belief around the organization that Howard is likely to join the team in Florida. If he does not, the Lakers could have another option at center. DeMarcus Cousins is still mulling whether he will return to the league for the remainder of the season or continue his rehabilitation from an ACL tear until the start of next season.


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