The Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Lakers will be without a starter when the NBA season resumes, as guard Avery Bradley announced Tuesday that he will not join the team next month in central Florida.
Bradley told ESPN that his decision was made out of concern for the health of his 6-year-old son, Liam, who has dealt with respiratory problems. Bradley and his wife have three children.
After a four-month hiatus prompted by the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA will send the top 22 of its 30 teams to the Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla. Training camp is due to run July 9-29 with games to commence on July 30.
“As committed to my Lakers teammates and the organization as I am, I ultimately play basketball for my family,” Avery Bradley said, per 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.
“As promised also, I will use this time away to focus on the formation of projects to help strengthen my communities.”
Last week, Bradley joined with Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving in fronting a coalition of NBA players asking the league and the players union to focus on social reform and anti-racism causes.
The rules of the paused season will allow the Lakers to replace Bradley on the roster, and multiple media outlets reported that free agent JR Smith could be a top target.
Smith won an NBA championship alongside current Lakers star LeBron James in 2015-16. However, the 34-year-old veteran last appeared in an NBA game in November 2018.
Bradley, 29, averaged 8.6 points and 2.3 rebounds for the Lakers in 49 games (44 starts) this season. He missed 13 games in November and December due to a hairline fracture in his right leg.
A 2010 first-round pick of the Celtics (19th overall) out of Texas, Bradley played seven seasons in Boston before splitting the past three seasons between the Detroit Pistons, Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies and the Lakers.
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