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Avery Bradley changes agents, says he may decline player option and enter free agency

Avery Bradley was seen as a near certainty to return to the Lakers, but after changing agents, he’s saying he may decline his player option and enter NBA free agency.

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Los Angeles Lakers v LA Clippers Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images

Veteran forward Markieff Morris switched agents ahead of NBA free agency, and he now isn’t the only member of the Lakers to do so, as Avery Bradley told Shams Charania of The Athletic that he will also change agents before the NBA transaction window opens.

He is also considering declining his player option and entering the free agent market:

NBA free agency begins on Nov. 20, and Bradley leaving could open up the full, $9.3 million mid-level exception for the Lakers, but also cost the team cheap depth at the guard position. There are potential pluses and minuses to both outcomes for the team.

But whenever a story like this comes out, we have to ask ourselves a simple question: Who benefits from this information becoming public? In this case, especially since it’s on the record, the clear and obvious answer is Bradley. But what does he have to gain from saying this publicly? The answer seems pretty clear to me.

Bradley had a decent season as the Lakers’ main starter at point guard, but nothing so special that it seems like a certainty that any team is going to offer him a long-term deal, especially after the Lakers won a title without him when Bradley opted out of going to the NBA bubble.

So why (essentially) threaten free agency? The logical conclusion would be that a) he already has an under-the-table offer from a team worth more (which for the reasons above seems unlikely) and wants the Lakers to offer more or b) the more likely answer: He wants his name kept out of the trade talks the team is having.

You see, Bradley’s $5 million expiring salary would make him useful salary ballast in trades. He’s not someone a team would likely trade for as a centerpiece of a deal, but he might help the Lakers take on a higher-salaried player as a throw-in with their draft pick or Kyle Kuzma, for example.

But Bradley presumably doesn’t want to uproot his family again during a pandemic just to be a throw-in to help a Lakers roster that already won without him get even better. It’s fair to guess he’d probably rather come back and prove his value, but if he doesn’t posture like he may opt out, the Lakers may not agree to keep him out of talks to get him to return.

Maybe this is all reading too far between the lines, but it makes a lot more sense than Bradley getting a better offer from another team, unless he really just wants more years on a deal, likes another situation more or is less concerned about annual money that long-term security. For now though, I’d assume this is just a polite stand-off between Bradley and the Lakers in an effort for him to avoid getting dealt.

This developing story may be updated with more information. For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.

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