Avery Bradley is the latest player to opt out of the NBA’s restart in Orlando.
Avery Bradley isn’t the first player to decide to opt out of the NBA’s planned restart in Orlando, but he is probably the most significant one yet, for a few reasons.
As ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Tuesday night, the Los Angeles Lakers guard has made his decision to not participate as the league resumes its season within the Walt Disney Resort bubble at the end of July. Bradley cited family concerns, given that his 6-year-old son, Liam, has a history of struggling to recover from respiratory illnesses.
Because of this, it’s unlikely Bradley’s son would’ve been medically cleared to enter the bubble with his father, his mother Ashley and his two siblings. Bradley has reportedly already informed the Lakers of his decision.
Avery Bradley is the most notable NBA player to opt out yet.
Davis Bertans of the Washington Wizards and Trevor Ariza of the Portland Trail Blazers have also decided not to participate in the NBA’s restart, but Bradley is the most significant name to surface thus far — not necessarily because he’s having the best season of the three, but because of the firm position he took with Kyrie Irving in questioning the league’s plans to return.
As Wojnarowski reported last week, Bradley and Irving led a coalition of NBA players in asking questions about what the association intended to do in order to more actively support the Black Lives Matter movement.
In addition to allowing players to use their platform to make a statement against systemic racism and injustice in this country, the group also wanted to know how the league intended to improve hiring practices for Black front office and head coaching candidates, as well as what kinds of donations the league would make to organizations serving Black communities and partnerships with Black-owned businesses.
The reasons Wojnarowski lists in his latest report are more family-oriented, but Bradley’s position that the NBA can and should be doing more on the BLM front, as well as his decision to opt out in general, will only encourage more players who are harboring doubts to speak up or make the decision to skip Orlando altogether — even at the cost of some of their salaries.
Here’s what Bradley had to say in his statement:
"“As committed to my Lakers teammates and the organization as I am, I ultimately play basketball for my family. 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.”"
This is a blow to the Lakers’ guard and wing depth, since Bradley is one of their best perimeter defenders. In 49 games (including 44 starts) this season, he averaged 8.6 points a night on 36.4 percent shooting from 3. He projects to lose about $650,000 in salary for the games missed, per ESPN. According to Woj, J.R. Smith is a leading candidate for the Lakers to replace him with.
Los Angeles will still be a contender without Bradley, but as his decision shows, there’s a lot going on in this country right now that’s much bigger than basketball. Only time will tell how many more players feel empowered to make this tough decision now that more and more of their fellow teammates and competitors are doing the same.