Although Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James appears all ready to resume the 2019-20 season, which is expected to restart in July, that doesn’t appear to be the case with a few of his teammates — including center Dwight Howard and guard Avery Bradley. Both have recently expressed hesitation to resume playing due to the ongoing protests over police brutality and systemic racism, but as a new report suggests, only one of them appears likely to suit up next month despite their earlier comments.
On Wednesday morning, Tania Ganguli and Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times provided a new update on the situation, noting that James “hasn’t wavered” from his desire to finish the 2019-20 campaign, which was suspended in March due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. Citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter, Ganguli and Turner wrote that Howard “plans to play,” while things aren’t quite as clear yet with Bradley.
Following the death of Minneapolis man George Floyd on May 25, numerous protests have taken place in various parts of the United States, with demonstrators calling for an end to racial inequality and for justice for Floyd and other African American victims of police brutality. These protests have struck a nerve with a number of NBA players, including Bradley, who recently said that sitting out the rest of the season “[highlights] the reality that without Black athletes, the NBA wouldn’t be what it is today.”
Over the weekend, Howard issued a statement stressing that any form of entertainment, including professional basketball, “isn’t needed at this moment” and will only serve as a distraction when it comes to the issues raised following Floyd’s death. At the time, Ganguli and Turner noted, the veteran center “stopped short of saying he would not play.”
"I would love nothing more than to win my very first NBA Championship. But the unity of My People would be an even bigger Championship"
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Regarding what it could mean for the Lakers if Howard and/or Bradley decide to sit out, SB Nation‘s Silver Screen and Roll wrote that the duo has been instrumental to Los Angeles’ success prior to the 2019-20 season’s suspension. Howard has played in all but one of the Lakers’ 63 games thus far as JaVale McGee’s backup in the middle, while Bradley has also played solidly as the team’s usual starter at shooting guard.
“If either one of them decided not to play, there would be roughly 20 minutes that would need to be redistributed, and 15 points that would need to be made up,” the outlet added.
Per an official memo released by the NBA earlier this week, players have up to June 24 to notify their teams of whether they plan to sit out the resumption of the season.