For the last month, we’ve known that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Rajon Rondo are going to opt out of their current contracts with the Los Angeles Lakers with the hope of signing bigger deals in free agency. We’ve also known that Anthony Davis is going to decline his player option so that he can sign a max deal with the Lakers in free agency.
There’s been less certainty around the two other Lakers that hold player options, Avery Bradley and JaVale McGee. Bradley has a player option worth $5 million, while McGee has a player option worth $4.2 million. Both of those numbers are larger than what Bradley and McGee are expected to get in the open market, but apparently Bradley is willing to take a chance on himself.
According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, Bradley is also expected to opt out of the final year of his contract:
Davis is one of a handful of L.A.’s championship pieces that could test free agency this week. Guards Rajon Rondo, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Avery Bradley also all have player options available to them that they are expected to decline.
There is still no word on what McGee plans to do.
Bradley opting out would be surprising for a few reasons, chief among them the money. Although Bradley did have his most productive season in years last season, the Lakers didn’t miss him all that much during the playoffs, when they went 16-5 with Caldwell-Pope as their starting point guard.
Bradley’s reasons for not traveling to Orlando were commendable, but in sitting out, he showed the Lakers — and the rest of the league — that he’s easily replaceable. For that reason, it’s hard to imagine him getting more than the $5 million he was due to make next season.
In fairness to Bradley, though, there are a few other factors that could lead him to opt out of his contract. What if the Lakers communicated to him that if he opted in, he would be traded? After all, they have 9.3 million reasons to try and get out from under his contract this offseason.
Or what if Bradley saw the way the Lakers performed in Orlando and decided he’d be a better fit elsewhere? Sure, Bradley’s perimeter defense might hold value to a team that just traded away Danny Green, but there’s no guarantee that he’s going to have the same role as he did last season: Caruso made his case for more playing time in the playoffs, Caldwell-Pope solidified his role in the starting lineup, and Dennis Schröder is obviously going to play a significant role at point guard.
At this point, you can argue that a divorce between Bradley and the Lakers would be beneficial for both parties, but that doesn’t make their seemingly inevitable separation any less surprising. Hopefully this is the last big surprise of the offseason.