If LeBron James is going to add to his legend and bring the Los Angeles Lakers their first title in 10 years, he may need some help from an old friend.
Lakers guard Avery Bradley will not be joining the team when the league restarts on July 30 in Orlando, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. His six-year-old son, Liam, has difficulties with respiratory illnesses, and Bradley understandably has concerns about playing and being able to bring his family to Orlando amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The 29-year-old said:
"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."
The 6'2" guard was averaging 8.6 points in 24.9 minutes per game with the Lakers before the season was put on hold due to the pandemic. His ability to stifle players on the wing helped the Lakers coalesce into one of the top defensive teams in the league (105.5 defensive rating, third-best in the league, per NBA.com).
The Lakers might be wise to bring in help under such strange circumstances. Former Cleveland Cavaliers guard JR Smith is the most-talked about option.
Sources for Wojnarowski say he's a leading candidate, and the Los Angeles Times' Brad Turner notes Smith has worked out with Lakers players over the past few weeks. Smith last played in November 2018, but he would (presumably) be a natural fit with James, with whom he won the 2016 Finals in Cleveland.
Smith isn't the only player the Purple and Gold can turn to in a pinch. Another colorful character from the team's past, Nick Young, offered his services on Instagram, per NBA on ESPN:
The Lakers can also stand pat, but with the possibility that other players might not join the team in Orlando—and the potential for more injuries because of all the disruptions to players' rhythms and schedules—the team would be wise to snatch up whichever guard is in the best position to help them. If it isn't going smoothly, they can always sit the late addition.
Anthony Davis Has a New Decision Day
Amid all the reminiscing about Smith's relationship with James and the rapid revival of some of the best memes surrounding the mercurial shooter, there was an interesting bit of information concerning Anthony Davis that popped up in recent days.
The pandemic pushed back the end of the season, creating a domino effect for the rest of the league's usual offseason hustle and bustle. That includes the free-agency period, which is now scheduled to begin with contract talks on Oct. 18, well past the typical late-June start. For Davis, this means a new decision day for his player option, per The Athletic's Shams Charania:
If Davis opts in and takes the one-year deal, he would make $28.7 million next season with the Lakers, per Spotrac. Considering how well things have gone in his first season with the Lakers, most expect him to opt out and sign a long-term deal with the franchise. That means at least another year or two with James, who has a player option in 2021. Davis could also test the waters, but with so much uncertainty surrounding the league for the foreseeable future, sticking with the Lakers seems like the safest bet.