Los Angeles Lakers guard Avery Bradley has decided to sit out the NBA’s upcoming resumption of the season in Florida.
He told ESPN on Tuesday night that he wants to remain with his wife and three children, including a 6-year-old son with a history of respiratory illnesses. By sitting out, Bradley figures to lose a projected $650,000 in salary.
“I can’t imagine making any decision that might put my family’s health and well-being at even the slightest risk,” Bradley told ESPN. “As promised also, I will use this time away to focus on the formation of projects to help strengthen my communities.”
The Lakers are a Western Conference-leading 49-14 and Bradley averaged 8.6 points and 2.3 rebounds per game while starting 44 games before the season was shut down in March due to the coronavirus.
Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, veteran shooting guard JR Smith is the top candidate to take Bradley’s spot on the roster.
Per Wojnarowski, Lakers president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka and Smith’s agent, Rich Paul, were discussing a possible agreement as of Tuesday night and were expected to talk again the following day.
Smith hasn’t played in the NBA since 2018 with the Cleveland Cavaliers, when he logged six minutes in a 113-102 loss to the Detroit Pistons on Nov. 19. He worked out for the Lakers in early March as the team was looking to add to its roster, but ultimately opted to sign Dion Waiters to a deal instead of him.
Smith teamed with James in Cleveland from 2014-18 and proved, at times, to be a critical piece for the Cavaliers in their run to The Finals each of those seasons. In Game 7 of the 2016 Finals, Smith finished with 12 points on 5-for-13 shooting (2-for-8 on 3-pointers) as Cleveland won the NBA title. Things went down hill for Smith after James left the Cavs to sign with the Lakers before the 2018-19 season.
He played in just 11 games that season and stepped away from the team in hopes of being traded or released. He was ultimately waived by the Cavs last summer and has been awaiting a new team since then.
Bradley and Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving have been vocal leaders of a players’ coalition that has sought to keep a focus on social justice and racial equality issues.
Bradley is the third significant player to decide against reporting to Orlando for a truncated end of the 2019-20 season, followed by the playoffs.
Wizards forward Davis Betans reportedly is sitting out rather than risk injury as he becomes a sought-after free agent in the offseason, and the Blazers’ Trevor Ariza reportedly is opting out to take advantage of a one-month visitation with his son as part of a custody case.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.