Avery Bradley Reportedly Opting Out of NBA Restart and Lakers Are Considering Surprising Free Agent
By Jerry Trotta
The Los Angeles Lakers' depth took a severe hit on Tuesday night, as it was revealed starting guard Avery Bradley has informed the team he will not participate in the NBA's July restart.
Per ESPN insider Adrian Wojnarowski, Bradley cited jeopardizing the health of his family -- particularly his eldest son, Liam, who has struggled to recovery from respiratory illnesses in the past -- as the motivation behind his decision. This would obviously put him at a greater risk if Bradley were to contract the coronavirus.
Bradley started 44 games for the Lakers this season and was the team's most effective perimeter defender. For the year, the former No. 19 overall pick was averaging 8.6 points and shot over 36% on threes.
It won't be easy replacing Bradley, but it appears that Los Angeles has already identified its top choice. According to Woj, veteran guard JR Smith has emerged as the team's leading candidate.
What a lovely plot twist.
Smith being the No. 1 choice to replace Bradley likely comes down to the fact that he has experience playing alongside LeBron James. The two players shared the court together in Cleveland from 2014-2018 before James left for Los Angeles. In the four campaigns leading up to 2019, Smith shot the three at a 37.9% clip, so the 34-year-old sharpshooter would give the Lakers some quality 3-point shooting.
It appears the Lakers are prepared to forfeit elite defense for potentially elite marksmanship. Considering the untimeliness of Bradley's decision, they could do a lot worse.