Ex-Guard Reveals Disappointment Lakers Did Not Re-Sign Him

Former Laker Avery Bradley, right, and LeBron James

Getty Former Laker Avery Bradley, right, and LeBron James

It has only been two months since guard Avery Bradley left the Lakers to sign with the Miami Heat, a move that surprised many. For months before that, the consensus around the NBA had been that Bradley was likely to return to the Lakers in 2020-21.

In fact, even Bradley thought that would be the case.

“Of course, you want to run it back,” Bradley said on the podcast of Chris Haynes from Yahoo! Sports, “after them winning a championship and me not being there to experience it with them, I want that feeling with the guys and the organization that I was able to build that bond with and that special run with. Even though I knew we could potentially lose someone, I still wanted to feel that with that core group of guys that I was battling with all year. It was hard. I thought I was going back.”

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Bradley had the option of going back, with a $5 million player option on his contract in the offseason. He decided to opt out in hopes of scoring a bigger payday, preferably with the Lakers. But the Lakers did not match the $11.6 million contract offer he got from Miami, and Bradley walked off to the Heat.

Will the Lakers Regret Losing Avery Bradley?

It could be a move the Lakers live to regret. The team remade its backcourt in the offseason with the trade of Danny Green for point guard Dennis Schroder, and the acquisition of Wesley Matthews, who essentially replaced Bradley (on a one-year, $3.6 million deal).

The $2 million savings might seem scant, but for a Lakers team working against the NBA’s hard cap and luxury tax, that money did matter. Bradley’s departure has also allowed the Lakers to give a longer look at second-year wing Talen Horton-Tucker.

But Bradley remains one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA and an excellent 3-point shooter. He was shooting 44.8% from the 3-point line, averaging 10.0 points for the Heat before he contracted COVID-19 earlier this month. He has gotten past the virus and should return to action soon.

Bradley was one of the few NBA players who decided to opt out of the return to play last summer in Orlando after a four-month COVID-19 hiatus. Bradley was concerned about the health of his young son, he said, who has lung issues.

“It’s hard,” Bradley said. “I was on a team that was favored to win a championship. And I sacrificed that for my family. That’s what this is about. We play for our families.”

Lakers Sent Avery Bradley, Wife Championship Rings

The Lakers, though, did acknowledge Bradley’s contribution by sending him a championship ring. In fact, he told Haynes, he got two—including one for his wife.

I actually have, I was blessed enough to get my ring already. I got my wife a ring as well because she, without her, I would not have been able to, you know—it’s a long season and she is the one who keeps me right. I have them both now. I am not sure what they’re going to do as far as ring ceremony, when I come in town. That’s not really important to me, though. I just appreciate that they had the class to give me a ring. I do feel like I was part of that team.

I was going to be fine with it. I was living with the decision that I made, I was OK with it. We made the best decision for our family.

And now he is preparing to return to action for Miami, the team the Lakers defeated to win the championship last season. Bradley, for one, is hoping for a repeat matchup this year.

“Maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be,” he said.

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