After making his thoughts on the NBA return very clear recently, Los Angeles Lakers starting guard Avery Bradley has come to a final decision on what he plans to do. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Bradley has decided against playing when the league returns on July 31st.
While Bradley had recently said that his commitment to social justice could keep him from playing, Wojnarowski revealed another important detail. Bradley’s son has struggled to recover from respiratory illnesses in the past. That would’ve likely meant that the guard could not see his son during the duration of the season which could last until October if the Lakers make the finals.
The Lakers losing Bradley is a big deal. He’s their best on-ball defender and has been able to knock down some threes in big games. His rationale for sitting out is certainly justified, but Los Angeles is going to miss him.
Dwight Howard Planning to Play?
Dwight Howard was in agreement with Bradley when it came to taking this time to focus on social activism. While he hasn’t made a decision yet, Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times recently reported that there’s still a good shot that he’s willing to play.
The big man doesn’t play a ton of minutes and his loss wouldn’t be as impactful as losing Bradley. That said, Howard’s been one of the most efficient bench players in the NBA this season and a really strong veteran presence. Losing both Howard and Bradley would be devastating for Los Angeles as they are hoping to make a title run. Expect Howard to make a final decision relatively soon.
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Who Could Replace Bradley?
The Lakers will now be forced to find a replacement for Bradley. Dion Waiters was signed shortly before the NBA went on hiatus but he’s spent hardly any time with the team. He could find a larger role than previously expected but the Lakers aren’t going to rely on him.
J.R. Smith seems to be the most logical replacement. He’s spent a lot of years playing with LeBron James and was recently spotted in Los Angeles. He’s got a ton of playoff experience and could be the best option to replace Bradley in the starting lineup. The most recent memory with Smith his horrible NBA Finals debacle with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Despite that, he’s a solid player and should still be able to put up some good stats at 34 years old.
Darren Collison would be a great pickup, but it remains to be seen if he has any interest in coming out of retirement. At this point in the year, there aren’t many great options left on the open market. A great shooting guard isn’t going to fall on the Lakers’ lap. Losing Bradley is a bad loss but as long as they have James and Anthony Davis, they’ll still have a great shot at winning the title.