The Los Angeles Lakers made a surprise move on Monday afternoon, claiming a former player of their own in Avery Bradley off waivers. He spent preseason and training camp with the Golden State Warriors, but was cut on the final day.
The Lakers, while shorthanded due to injury, knew they would need a defensive-minded guard to hold them over, and Bradley fit the bill. He joined the team on a non-guaranteed contract on Monday and found himself playing in the fourth quarter against the Warriors in L.A.’s season opener on Tuesday.
With the Lakers falling behind and struggling defensively, Frank Vogel turned to Bradley. He responded by playing his usual hounding defense on Stephen Curry while also scoring six points on 2-of-3 from 3-point range.
Bradley spoke about the opportunity to re-join the Lakers following the team’s Opening Night loss. “It’s been a lot,” Bradley said of the roller coaster last week. “But I can say I’m thankful. I’m thankful for the opportunity to be there and ultimately be here.
“I just want to take full advantage of this opportunity. And like I said, I’m just thankful the Lakers gave me the opportunity to come back and give me a chance to help to this team in any way I can.”
As for Tuesday night specifically, Bradley was surprised to be in the game at all, but was happy to be able to help. “Yeah, Coach just told me that I potentially may not play tonight. I just tried to stay ready if my name was called and it was.
“I just wanted to go in there and just play hard, that’s my focus,” Bradley said. “Pick my spots and LeBron found me on a few shots and I knocked them in. But again, I’m just happy to be here and hope if I get an opportunity to be out there on the floor, I can just play hard and take whatever opportunities are given to me.”
Bradley’s familiarity with Vogel and the Lakers system may be an advantage for him with the team undermanned. Trevor Ariza and Talen Horton-Tucker figure to be out for several weeks, while Kendrick Nunn and Wayne Ellington remain game-to-game.
Bradley can step in as a plug-and-play defensive guard, even if there are some concerns about offense. But if the first game of the season was any indication, Bradley’s usefulness on the defensive end of the floor may outweigh his struggles to score.
Bradley felt familiarity playing alongside James, Davis and Rondo
Part of the reason that Vogel went to Bradley despite him not practicing with the team yet is that he is familiar with the team’s schemes from the 2019-20 season.
He also talked about his familiarity playing with guys like LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Rajon Rondo helped him.
“There was,” Bradley said of the familiarity. “I’ve been playing with Rondo for six years and then AD and Bron for one year. I can read those guys, I know how they play kind of, complement those guys on both ends of the floor. Every opportunity I got, I made sure I bring my all and try to make the game easier for them.”
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