Avery Bradley has opted not to join the NBA’s restart in Orlando, becoming the first major player to do so. Bradley was a starter for the LeBron James-led Los Angeles Lakers before the NBA was put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski was the first to break the news on Twitter on Tuesday night. Bradley reportedly cited the well-being of his 6-year-old son as the reason for his decision. As Wojnarowski reports, Bradley’s son, the oldest of three children, “has a history of struggling to recover from respiratory illnesses and would have been unlikely to be medically cleared to enter [the] bubble with his family.”
The NBA’s plans to restart the season at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida seemed promising to begin with, though it has now been met with opposition by a significant faction of the players. Among the players to oppose the restart — or at least the terms of the restart — are Dwight Howard (also of the Los Angeles Lakers) and Kyrie Irving (who is out injured and unlikely to feature regardless).
Players are free to decide whether they will join the restart or not, though those that do not will see their salaries cut accordingly. The main concern from the players’ side is reportedly the “bubble” the NBA plans to construct in Orlando and whether the safety measures are adequate.
Wojnarowski also reported that free agent J.R. Smith is a leading candidate to replace Bradley for the Lakers. J.R. Smith previously played with LeBron James for the Cleveland Cavaliers and has repeatedly been linked with contenders looking to strengthen their rosters ahead of the playoffs.
So far, Bradley is the highest profile player to announce he will not be joining the NBA restart and could well be the first domino to fall. Stay tuned for further updates.