When the NBA season restarts in Disney World next month, the Los Angeles Lakers are going to look a little different. Avery Bradley, who started 44 of the Lakers' first 63 games, will not be with the team. Bradley has decided to stay home with his family. The Bradleys have three children and their 6-year old son, Liam, has trouble recovering from respiratory illness. On a personal level, it's a no-brainer for Bradley.
Looking at it from a basketball perspective, the Lakers just lost a starter, a solid perimeter defender, and their fifth-leading scorer. The Lakers signed Dion Waiters in early March right before the season was postponed. Waiters started the season on the Miami Heat. He got suspended after he had a THC-induced panic attack on a team flight. He was suspended by the Heat three times before he was traded to Memphis and then waived.
Some of Bradley's minutes will go to Waiters in an effort to see if he can be used and / or trusted when the playoffs begin. And the same will probably be said of J.R. Smith. LeBron's other former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate is the front-runner to take Bradley's roster spot. He was spotted riding bicycles with LeBron and Anthony Davis a few weeks ago. He also beat up somebody who vandalized his truck.
To say that NBA rosters are going to be very weird by the time the season resumes appears to be an understatement. The presumptive favorites in the Western Conference will be turning to Dion Waiters and J.R. Smith in a few weeks. And what happens if Dwight Howard stays home? How close are we to Birdman coming out of retirement as he turns 42 next month?
With Smith gone, who knows where other teams will turn. People are going to drop out - either by choice or mandatory quarantine. Nikola Jokic just tested positive for COVID-19, but he'll still join the Nuggets who have the third-best record in the West. Trevor Ariza is staying home, so who knows what the Blazers will do to fill his spot. He's started 21 games for Portland and played 33 minutes a game.
It's going to be strange. The games will have a different feel and the players might actually become unrecognizable as the postseason gets closer. If nothing else, it will be interesting to watch.