Avery Bradley

Lakers Notes: LeBron, Smith, Bradley, Rondo

The stakes are high for LeBron James as the NBA season moves closer to restarting, writes Scott Cacciola of The New York Times. At age 35 and with a fourth championship possibly in reach, the Lakers star will have a chance to significantly add to his legacy.

Teammates say James maintained his leadership role through the nearly four-month hiatus, offering advice on group chats regarding topics such as gyms that were available for workouts and opportunities to speak out about social justice. He also stayed in top physical condition in preparation for a playoff run.

“He’s in the gym early, he’s leaving late and he’s the last guy working — and probably working the longest and the hardest,” Danny Green said. “He hasn’t changed at all, man.”

There’s more Lakers news to pass along:

  • Veteran guard J.R. Smith, who signed with the Lakers last week, said the coaching staff has given him a clearly defined role, Cacciola adds in the same piece. Smith was instructed to “shoot the ball at a high level” and concentrate on defense, leaving the playmaking duties to others. “It’s fortunate,” he said, “because I’ve never been the guy who was really trying to set up guys.”
  • Even though Avery Bradley opted out of the restart, he will receive a championship ring if the Lakers win the title, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Bradley, the only player from a serious title contender to pass on playing in Orlando, made the decision because of health concerns involving his six-year-old son. “Will I accept the ring? I’m neither here nor there about it,” he said. “I am 10 years in this league. The physical possession of a ring doesn’t make me feel like more or less of a person. I play basketball strictly for enjoyment and to add to the support of my family. Supporting them is exactly what I’m doing right now.”
  • Rajon Rondo is sporting an impressive physique in a Lakers practice video that has been circulating on social media, notes Austin Boyd of Heavy. The 34-year-old guard is notably leaner and stronger than when the season was suspended in March.

Lakers’ Avery Bradley Opting Out Of NBA Restart

Lakers guard Avery Bradley is voluntarily opting out of participating in the NBA restart, he tells ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Although Bradley has been among the players voicing concerns about the resumption of the season drawing attention away from the fight for social justice, Wojnarowski reports that family considerations – including the well-being of his three children – are a primary factor in Bradley’s decision.

According to Woj, Bradley’s six-year-old son has a history of struggling to recover from respiratory illnesses and likely wouldn’t be medically cleared to enter the Orlando bubble after the first round of the playoffs, when family members will be permitted to join players.

“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.

“As promised also, I will use this time away to focus on the formation of projects to help strengthen my communities.”

Bradley becomes the third player known to be opting out of the season’s resumption. However, Davis Bertans and Trevor Ariza – the other two players who have decided not to participate – are on teams currently outside of the playoff picture, while Bradley is a key rotation player for the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed.

Bradley, 29, averaged 8.6 PPG and 2.3 RPG on .444/.364/.833 shooting in 49 games (24.2 MPG) this season, and was considered one of the Lakers’ top perimeter defenders. Now that he’s out of the mix for Orlando, the team may have to lean on guards like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso, and Rajon Rondo to play increased roles.

The Lakers will also be eligible to sign a substitute player to replace Bradley, despite not having an open spot on their 15-man roster. Virtually any current free agent is eligible to be signed, as long as he didn’t play in a non-NBA professional league this season.

That substitute player won’t count against L.A.’s cap, though he can only be signed to a minimum-salary, rest-of-season contract and won’t have any form of Bird rights at season’s end, notes ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link).

Bradley will forfeit a portion of his $4.77MM salary by sitting out the summer portion of the season — Wojnarowski estimates the decision will cost the veteran guard approximately $650K. Bradley has a player option for 2020/21 worth just over $5MM.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Avery Bradley, Players’ Coalition Outline Priorities Prior To NBA Return

Avery Bradley, who co-leads the players’ coalition along with Kyrie Irving, spoke with Malika Andrews and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com to outline what the group would like to see done before the NBA resumes its season.

Among the priorities is the improved hiring practices for black front office and head coaching positions in the NBA. Bradley also suggested that the league’s front offices should better reflect its composition of players. Currently, there are just eight black general managers – including only four that have final say on basketball decisions – and seven black head coaches.

“Regardless of how much media coverage will be received, talking and raising awareness about social injustice isn’t enough,” Bradley said. “Are we that self-centered to believe no one in the world is aware of racism right now? That as athletes, we solve the real issues by using our platforms to speak?

“We don’t need to say more. We need to find a way to achieve more. Protesting during an anthem, wearing T-shirts is great, but we need to see real actions being put in to the works.”

Another priority is which organizations the league does business with and which foundations it provides donations to. The black community should be better represented in those areas, Bradley argues. Additionally, Bradley calls for the owners to stand behind the players. The Lakers guard hopes that the league’s owners will follow the charitable work of Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Hornets owner Michael Jordan. Both made substantial contributions in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

“I agree [the] Orlando [restart] will give the players checks to contribute back into their communities,” Bradley said. “But how much of that bubble check are players actually able to contribute? Why [is] all of the responsibility being put on the players?”

Bradley added that he hasn’t seen a plan from the NBA for league-wide action.

“Don’t put all of the weight on your player to take care of the issue,” Bradley said. “If you care about us, you can’t remain silent and in the background.”

Other players are behind Irving and Bradley, though the ESPN duo notes that many are reluctant to speak out for fear of backlash.

“The actual act of sitting out doesn’t directly fight systemic racism,” Bradley said. “But it does highlight the reality that without black athletes, the NBA wouldn’t be what it is today. The league has a responsibility to our communities in helping to empower us — just as we have made the NBA brand strong.”

Irving-Led Coalition Details Concerns

A player coalition led by Nets star Kyrie Irving and Lakers guard Avery Bradley is pursuing a further examination of the league’s plan to restart the season in Orlando, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Malika Andrews report.

At the top of the coalition’s wish list is a commitment of resources and methods to move forward an agenda of social justice reforms.

The group also has issues with the resumption of play in Orlando’s Disney complex, including an uptick in positive coronavirus cases in Florida; the restrictive environment in the bubble, insurance for players regarding potential illnesses; and the risk of injuries during an accelerated finish.

After a conference call that included nearly 100 players voicing concerns over the restart plan on Friday, a call engineered by Irving, another conference call that included about 40 individuals was held on Monday.

A statement issued to ESPN from the group read in part:

“Native indigenous African Caribbean men and women entertaining the world, we will continue to use our voices and platforms for positive change and truth. … We are combating the issues that matter most: We will not accept the racial injustices that continue to be ignored in our communities. We will not be kept in the dark when it comes to our health and well-being. And we will not ignore the financial motivations/expectations that have prevented us historically from making sound decisions.”

Irving, a VP in the Players’ Association, was a part of the union’s ratification vote on June 5 for the resumption of play. He’s out for the season after undergoing shoulder surgery.

The NBA and NBPA are working on solutions in order to get as many players as possible to rejoin the 22 teams involved the restart plan this month, the ESPN duo adds.

More Details Emerge From Friday’s Conference Call

We relayed details last night about a conference call regarding player objections to the plan to restart the NBA season in Orlando. More information on that call, which involved in excess of 80 players, has been released by Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Charania confirms that Kyrie Irving was the leader of the effort to make players reconsider their support of finishing the season. He spoke first and offered a direct message to his peers, telling them, “I don’t support going into Orlando. I’m not with the systematic racism and the bull–. … Something smells a little fishy. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are targeted as black men every day we wake up.”

Avery Bradley, who was outspoken throughout the conversation, was the first player to follow Irving’s comments. He encouraged the players to take a stand and to use the opportunity to “play chess, not checkers.” Other prominent names on the call included union president Chris PaulKevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard and Donovan Mitchell.

Players have been involved in conversations for the past two weeks, sources tell Charania, expressing concerns about the games in Orlando and the restrictive conditions that are rumored to be part of the bubble environment. The opposition began among “rank-and-file” players, with Irving and Durant providing prominent voices.

Sources offered Charania a few more tidbits from the conference call:

  • Anthony emphasized the need for player unity and the importance of conveying a single message. He also urged all 80 players on the call to donate $25K to a cause of their choice.
  • CJ McCollum told players they have to be prepared for financial setbacks if they choose not to play and the possibility that owners will nullify the current Collective Bargaining Agreement.
  • Howard warned that resuming the season will distract from the social justice issues the country is focused on. He encouraged players to use the moment as a catalyst for change.
  • Mitchell talked about players “being behind the 8-ball” by being forced into a competitive environment after being idle for so long. “We’re taking a big injury risk,” he told his fellow players.
  • NBPA leadership doesn’t expect fans to be allowed into games at any point during the 2020/21 season, which would result in another huge revenue loss for the league.

Pacific Notes: Kuzma, Bradley, Bowman, Lee, Curry, Thompson

The Lakers aren’t close to dealing Kyle Kuzma and want a substantial package if they do move the high-scoring forward, according to Sean Deveney of Heavy.com. The Kings are reportedly among the teams interested in acquiring Kuzma. The Lakers would likely ask for a quality rotation player, preferably a point guard, along with a first-round draft pick that projects to be in or around the lottery, Deveney continues. The Lakers would also consider two lesser first-round picks as part of a package for Kuzma, Deveney adds.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Lakers guard Avery Bradley suffered a right ankle sprain against Detroit on Sunday, Dave McMenamin of ESPN relays. X-rays were negative and it’s uncertain when Bradley will return to action. Bradley missed 13 games earlier this season due to a right leg injury and hasn’t played more than 63 regular-season games over the previous three seasons due to an assortment of ailments.
  • The Warriors will send Ky Bowman to the G League when D’Angelo Russell returns from a right shoulder contusion, Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets. Bowman has six days remaining on his 45-day NBA allotment under the terms of a two-way contract. The team’s other two-way player, Damion Lee, has just two days remaining until he must remain in the G League or receive a standard contract. A roster spot is likely to be cleared for Lee at some point, Slater adds.
  • Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry are getting antsy as they rehab from long-term injuries, Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area reports. Thompson is working his way back from the knee injury he suffered during last season’s playoffs, while Curry is rehabbing from hand surgery. “In an ironic way, this has been probably a good chance for them to blow off some stream and whatever metaphor you want to use,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “But that can only last for so long. They’re both dying to play. And we’re dying to have them back.”

Pacific Notes: Bradley, Horton-Tucker, Evans, Kokoskov

Lakers guard Avery Bradley has been cleared for full contact, the team’s PR department tweets. Bradley started 10 games for the streaking Lakers, averaging 9.8 PPG, before suffering a lower right leg injury. He had a hairline fracture in a non-weight bearing bone. Bradley’s two-year, $9.8MM contract includes a $5MM player option.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Lakers second-round pick Talen Horton-Tucker is trying to make the most of his G League appearances, he told David Yapkowitz of Basketball Insiders. Horton-Tucker is averaging 11.7 PPG, 5.9 RPG and 3.2 APG in 11 games with the South Bay Lakers. “I understand that I’m probably not going to get minutes with the Lakers right now,” Horton-Tucker said. “I feel like the G League has been great. It helps us get our reps in and it helps our careers get started.”
  • Warriors guard Jacob Evans is available to play on Monday after missing 21 games with an adductor strain, Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets. Evans appeared in three games this season prior to the injury, averaging 6.0 PPG in 14.3 MPG. The former Cincinnati standout had his 2020/21 option picked up by Golden State in late October.
  • Former Suns coach and current Kings assistant Igor Kokoskov has no regrets about his draft input with Phoenix, Dan Feldman of NBC Sports relays. “I will tell you that I sleep peacefully and peaceably,” Kokoskov said to Index regarding his recommendation for the Suns’ No. 1 overall pick in 2018. Kokoskov is believed to have wanted Luka Doncic, whom Kokoskov coached on the Slovenian National Team, but Suns owner Robert Sarver pushed for Deandre Ayton, Feldman adds.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Pacific Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Pacific Division:

Montrezl Harrell, Clippers, 25, PF (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $12MM deal in 2018
The Rockets had no idea what they were giving up when they tossed Harrell into the Chris Paul blockbuster. Harrell doesn’t have a three-point shot but otherwise, he’s a terror. He was a prime candidate for Sixth Man of the Year last season and will be once again. He’s averaging 19.1 PPG, 8.0 RPG and 2.2 APG despite starting just two of 22 games. Harrell will be a hot commodity as an unrestricted free agent and the Clippers will be pushed into luxury tax territory if they want to retain him. It would be worth the cost.

Glenn Robinson III, Warriors, 25, SF (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $1.9MM deal in 2019
Robinson’s last season in Indiana was a washout due to an ankle injury. His one season in Detroit was a washout due to a lack of production. With an expanded role on a bad team, Robinson is upgrading his resume. He’s averaging 32.1 MPG as a starter and averaging 11.6 PPG, 4.6 RPG and 2.0 APG while making 38.9% of his 3-point tries. Stats compiled under these circumstances can be deceiving but Robinson has at least regained his confidence and shown he’s worthy of a rotation spot on most teams.

Avery Bradley, Lakers, 29, SG (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $9.8MM deal in 2019
Bradley started 10 games for the streaking Lakers this season, though he didn’t shoot well (28.6% from deep) playing alongside two of the league’s biggest stars. The big issue for Bradley in recent seasons has been staying on the court and once again, the injury bug has bitten him. He’s out at least another week with a lower leg issue. Bradley’s contract includes a $5MM player option and he needs to show he can stay healthy and productive for a long stretch in order to decline that option and test the free agent waters.

Aron Baynes, Suns, 32, C (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $10.6MM deal in 2018
The popular Australian big man has gotten off to a terrific start in Phoenix with Deandre Ayton serving his 25-game league-imposed suspension. Baynes is averaging 14.7 PPG, 5.7 RPG and 2.9 APG in 24.0 MPG through 13 games. He’s also turned into a solid three-point shooter (43.9%), adding a new element to his game. He’s been slowed recently by a calf injury but with a dearth of quality centers around the league, Baynes will get some multi-year offers as an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

Harry Giles, Kings, 21, PF (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $6.6MM deal in 2017
The 20th pick of the 2017 draft, Giles has battling injuries since entering the league. He didn’t make his NBA debut until last season, then appeared in 58 games off the bench. The Kings declined their fourth-year option on him prior to this season, making him an unrestricted free agent this summer. He doesn’t have a rotation spot under new coach Luke Walton, averaging just 7.4 MPG in seven appearances this season. The same age as a college senior, Giles will get a second chance somewhere but his offers will be modest.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lakers Notes: Bradley, James, Pelinka

Avery Bradley will be re-evaluated next Friday after the Lakers return from their road trip, Brett Dawson of The Athletic tweets. Bradley, who signed a two-year deal this offseason, is dealing with a leg injury and appears to be leaning toward the end of the one-to-two week timeline announced last Friday.

Here’s more from Los Angeles:

  • There have been grumblings from agents that they could not get players on the Lakers without LeBron James‘ approval, Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated writes. GM Rob Pelinka has admitted that he consulted James when making acquisitions this offseason.
  • James, Pelinka and Anthony Davis have a group chat and Mannix adds that roster moves have been a regular topic in the forum. “I think we’re always open to listening to the player’s voice,” said Pelinka. “But I do think as a principal with the Lakers, we do want the GM and the front office to be building rosters, and the coaches to doing the strategy. And I think it’s important to empower people to do their job in their lane and not to be meddlesome. So we definitely stay away from that.”
  • The key to coaching James? Be as prepared as he is, Mannix writes in the same piece. Former teammate Richard Jefferson told the scribe that LBJ will know if you are not prepared. “Is he easy to coach? No,” Jefferson said. “Was Kobe Bryant the best teammate? No. But guys like that, their job is not to be easy to coach or be the best teammate. Their job is to go out there and be competitive. A great player will challenge a coach.”

Avery Bradley Out At Least 1-2 Weeks With Leg Injury

The Lakers will be without Avery Bradley for at least a few games. The team announced today in a press release that an MRI on Bradley’s injured right leg revealed a hairline fracture in a non-weight bearing bone. He’ll be re-evaluated in one or two weeks, according to the club.

Bradley initially suffered this injury on November 3 in San Antonio, according to Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link), who says an X-ray at the time revealed no fracture. Since the leg was still bothering him, the team conducted a follow-up MRI this week, which showed the hairline fracture.

Outside of Anthony Davis and LeBron James, Bradley has been the Lakers’ most-used player this season, averaging 27.4 minutes per contest. The veteran guard has averaged 9.6 PPG on 48.8% shooting and has typically guarded top opposing perimeter scorers.

The Lakers will host Sacramento tonight before facing Atlanta on Sunday and Oklahoma City on Tuesday and again on Friday. Assuming Bradley’s absence extends beyond to two weeks, he’d also miss games in Memphis (November 23), San Antonio (Nov. 25), and New Orleans (Nov. 27).

With Bradley out of their lineup, the Lakers figure to lean more heavily on the likes of Alex Caruso, Quinn Cook, and Troy Daniels, among others.