LOSA ANGELES: Los Angeles Lakers guard Avery Bradley has opted out of playing when the NBA resumes the 2019-20 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 J.R. 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.