The Los Angeles Lakers will be going into the Walt Disney World bubble in Orlando, Florida, without one of their most important players. Avery Bradley announced he would not be joining the team, citing a health issue with his eldest son and not wanting to put him in any danger.
For the Lakers on the basketball side it is a certainly a major loss, but one that vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka and the entire organization were with Bradley the entire way through.
“I had worked really extensively with Avery and his wife Ashley, and as he’s indicated, they had a family issue with one of Avery’s sons that was a health-related issue,” Pelinka noted during a conference call. “For us, that was a process we wanted to stay close with Avery and his family on. We were involved with it and we wanted to support him.”
The Lakers have always insisted that they are a family-first organization and this is another example of how much they value their players. “Of course, for our team it’s tough to lose Avery, his toughness, his defensive tenacity, he was a starter,” Pelinka acknowledged.
“But we completely understand his decision. Of course that’s a decision of mixed emotions from a basketball standpoint.”
The Lakers have already made their move to replace Bradley on the roster by signing veteran guard JR Smith, but to expect him to solely replace what Bradley brought to the team would be unfair. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso, Dion Waiters and Rajon Rondo will all play their own parts, as will Smith.
At the end of the day, the health and safety of family comes above everything else and Pelinka and the Lakers understand that. Regardless of how it affects the team on the court Pelinka made it very clear that the franchise supports Bradley wholeheartedly with his decision.
“As a friend of Avery’s and Ashley’s, and as a former agent of their family, and as GM of the Lakers, I was really hoping for them to have an opportunity compete for a championship,” he said. “But I understand in this instance safety and family is first.”
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