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AVERY BRADLEY OPTS-OUT OF PLAYING IN ORLANDO — Dwight Howard possibly being next

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Avery Bradley is out! Los Angeles Lakers guard has decided to opt-out of playing in NBA’s Orlando restart. Bradley stands to lose a projected $650,000 in salary by sitting out the season’s resumption, but there are some things bigger than basketball and money. The reason for opting out is of a family nature, most importantly, the well being of his six-year-old son Liam.

His son is among people who need to be extra cautious with COVID-19, as he has a history of respiratory illnesses. Him being medically cleared even to enter the bubble is unlikely, to say the least. Bradley isn’t ready to risk it and is siding with his family on this one.

“As committed to my Lakers teammates and the organization as I am, I ultimately play basketball for my family. 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. As promised also, I will use this time away to focus on the formation of projects to help strengthen my communities.”

Avery Bradley, ESPN

So Bradley is out, and it’s hard to hold it against him. He does have an obligation as a basketball player, but being a father is even a bigger one, and it seems like the right thing to choose in this unusual situation.

But what does Bradley being out means for the Lakers? Let’s just say their chances of going all the way didn’t get any bigger. Bradley has been a key two-way player for LA. In 49 games played, he averaged 8.6 ppg. But it’s not his scoring that makes him valuable. It’s mostly his defense, as he’s been among the best perimeter defenders in the league for the last few years. It’s also his three-point shooting, as he seems to be the perfect guy to play next to LeBron. Low maintenance, 3nD type of player who you can rely on nigh in and night out. And now he’s gone.

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The free-agent who is emerging as a leading candidate to replace Bradley is JR Smith. Smith is a lesser version of Avery, with one huge difference; he isn’t nearly as reliable. Seems like a pretty significant downgrade in my eyes. The one who is most likely replace him as a starting SG is Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, but it’s safe to say the Lakers lost a big piece heading into the resumption of the NBA season.

Just hours before it was reported Bradley is sitting the season out, Danny Green talked about how important he is going to be for the team, and how he hasn’t been able to get in touch with him recently. I guess by that time, Avery had already made his decision.

“I think it’s just important that we’re together. Obviously, we’re going to need Avery Bradley, and we’re going to need Dwight Howard to be playing for us to have a chance. But I think it’s important that we stay healthy, and not just our team but the league. I think we have some professional guys that are on top of it and actually staying in shape during this time, so I think we’ll be a little ahead of the curve with that.”

Danny Green, Lakers Daily

As you’ve read, another name was mentioned, and it’s Dwight Howard. As it turned out, Dwight is another one who may not be going to Orlando. He’s dealing with some off the court stuff, that in Green’s words are “bigger than basketball.” There hasn’t been an official confirmation yet, but keep that in mind; Howard is another one who may opt-out from playing in the bubble.

Losing Bradley alone is a massive blow for the Lakers. He’s been their best defensive player on the perimeter and was a reliable option on the other side of the floor. Bradley has been crucial for their 1-3 matchups in the playoffs, as he was the one getting the toughest assignment every game. Now all that is gone, and LA’s front office will have to look into other options to make up for his output.

If that’s not enough, they are on edge with Howard’s decision. Losing Dwight would reach catastrophic dimensions for the Lakers, as he’s been their crucial impact player coming off the bench. There isn’t a player out there that would adequately replace what Howard brings to his team, and him missing the rest of the season along with Bradley would possibly crush their dreams of the title.

I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Not having Bradley is a huge blow. Losing Dwight might be the final nail in the coffin the Lakers.

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