Avery Bradley Won't Play In Orlando

Time to call Earl Joseph Smith III, Laker Fan.

Jim Rome
June 24, 2020 - 12:41 pm
Avery Bradley

USA Today

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Yesterday, word broke that LA Laker Avery Bradley would not be participating in the resumed season in Orlando. Bradley has been a co-leader of the player’s coalition that has sought to address issues of racial equality and social justice as part of the NBA restart.

But according to Woj, the decision not to play is about Bradley’s family and more specifically, his oldest son, six-year old Liam, who has a history of struggling to recover from respiratory illnesses and it is unlikely that he would’ve been cleared to enter the Orlando bubble with his family.

Bradley 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."

That is a brutal decision to have to make. Absolutely soul-destroying to have to choose between your family and your team. And it is a reminder of what is being asked of the players. It’s not just about hanging out at Disney World and playing some basketball for a few weeks, it’s an extended separation from your family.

You know how badly Bradley would want to stay with the Lakers and have a chance to win a title this year, and he’s a key player and critical to their chances of winning it all.  But he’s making the right call. Family over team. Family over everything.

But again, don’t act like this isn’t a significant blow for the Lakers. Because it is. Don’t take it from me, ask Magic Johnson, who tweeted:

The Lakers losing Avery Bradley is a tough loss and will make it more difficult for them to win the NBA championship.

I am so glad Erv quit on the Lakers so that he could get back to tweeting things like that. Welcome back, boss. Great tweet. 

But this time, Erv’s right. Not only is that a razor sharp, straight fire tweet, it’s a completely accurate tweet. No lies detected.

Bradley started 44 games this season. In that Sunday win over the Clippers before the league stopped, Bradley had 24 points, including 6 threes, and had a pair of steals. In that game, he was right up there with LeBron and Anthony Davis among the reasons why the Lakers won that game.

So if you’re the Lakers, what do you do now? Where do you go to find someone who can give you that spark on offense and play serious defense?

Maybe you try another run at Darren Collison to see if he’s had any second thoughts about retirement. Maybe you reach out to Iman Shumpert or kick the tires on Nick Young. Or…or…maybe….just maybe… you just go straight to the most logical answer of all time: Earl Joseph Smith III.

AKA JR Smith, AKA JR Swish. AKA So riiiiiiiigggghtttt

And apparently, that is what the Lakers are doing. According to Woj, JR Smith is a leading candidate to replace Bradley. Let’s be clear about that: he’s not going to replace Bradley. They do somewhat different things, but he is a leading candidate to be the guy who takes Bradley’s roster spot.

And that would be great. Better than great. More like, one of the best things ever. Not just because it’s JR and more JR is always a good thing, well, because of THAT.  Period.  But also because it opens up the possibility for two things:

One – a JR Smith-Dion Waiters backcourt at some point in the playoffs. Imagine that. Waiters Island and The Henny God Who Doesn’t Like Henny, in the purple and gold, in the playoffs. With a really good look at the Finals.

Just think about the power and potential energy when those two get together. If those two are on the floor together, to quote Kevin Garnett: anything is possible.

And I do mean anything. You can run down your list of all-time great backcourts, none of them are greater than JR Smith and Dion Waiters.

But here’s the other possibility that is opened up: a Lakers championship parade with a shirtless JR Smith. Nobody knows how to celebrate an NBA title the way JR Smith celebrates an NBA title.

When Cleveland won four years ago, he went roughly four years without a shirt. It was so noticeable that President Obama told Ty Lue to get JR to put a shirt back on.

Now imagine that going down Figueroa. And then imagine it going up Wilshire, and down Santa Monica, and west on the 10 and east on the 10 and north and south on the 405. And then onto the PCH.

Because The Henny God Who Doesn’t Like Henny won’t stop. And if the Lakers win a title and he’s on the roster, you know that parade won’t stop. That parade will run from the end of the season to the start of next season.

He’ll be hitting every freeway, highway, and Surface Street. He’ll even be shirtless on the 42, the 55, and the 73. He’ll be going Henny-free and shirt free on the Twentynine Palms Highway and Venice Boulevard.

I don’t root, but I do root for JR Smith on the Lakers. Let’s do it. Avery Bradley is going the right thing by staying with his family. Now the Lakers have to do the right thing by replacing him with JR SMITH.