LOS ANGELES, USA – Los Angeles Lakers guard Avery Bradley has opted out of playing when the NBA resumes the 2019-2020 season, telling ESPN he doesn’t want to risk his family’s health.
Powered by four-time NBA Most Valuable Player LeBron James, the Lakers led the Western Conference at 49-14 when the league shut down March 11 after Utah’s Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus.
The season is expected to resume next month in a “bubble” environment at Orlando, Florida, but Bradley won’t be there out of concern for six-year-old son Liam, who has a history of struggling with respiratory illnesses.
“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.”
Bradley said he would also use the time to work on social justice and racial equality issues.
The 29-year-old US guard has started in 44 of his 49 appearances for the Lakers this season, averaging 8.6 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists.
Bradley is in his 10th NBA season after playing for Boston, Detroit, the Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis before joining the Lakers last July.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is likely to take most of Bradley’s time in the starting lineup while the Lakers, according to multiple reports, are looking at signing JR Smith to fill the roster spot Bradley vacates.
Smith, 34, was a teammate of James for the Cleveland Cavaliers on their 2016 NBA championship squad but he hasn’t played in the league since November 2018.
Reigning champ Raptors begin Florida work
Meanwhile, the reigning NBA champion Toronto Raptors began preparing for next month’s planned resumption Tuesday, June 23, at Fort Myers, Florida.
The Canadian club was the first to arrive in Florida ahead of the planned bubble atmosphere at Disney World near Orlando, but will stay in southwest Florida until entering the safety zone in early July.
Should the Raptors return to the NBA Finals, which they won last June over Golden State, they would remain in the Sunshine State until early October.
The Raptors are working out at Florida Gulf Coast University, according to school officials.
To comply with NBA rules and safety protocols, there will be no group workouts for the Raptors, with individual players working out in a safe and controlled atmosphere until group workouts are permitted once teams have reported to Disney World.
The NBA is expected to resume its regular season on July 30.
Their Monday charter airplane arrival came as Florida is enduring a spike in coronavirus positives. The state became among the first to reopen for sports teams after early testing shutdowns produced relatively few cases in the first two months of stay-at-home rules.
Raptors coach Nick Nurse’s wife, Roberta, is a former volleyball star at Florida Golf Coast who is from Brazil. The couple own a home in Fort Myers. – Rappler.com