After agreeing to send Danny Green to the Oklahoma City Thunder earlier this week, the Los Angeles Lakers will almost certainly be in the market for a guard who can defend the perimeter in free agency.
The Lakers have already been linked to Wesley Matthews, who declined his player option with the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday, but before they can go out and make an offer to anyone else on the open market, they have to find out what a few of their own players are doing — specifically, Avery Bradley. Bradley has a player option worth $5 million that he can exercise for next season, and while that’s probably more than he’d get as an unrestricted free agent given the shortage of cap space around the NBA, it seems Bradley values security more than money.
According to a report from Ramona Shelburne of ESPN on “Mason and Ireland,” Bradley has interest in returning to the Lakers next season, but he wants a bigger contract with more years:
“Avery Bradley has until Thursday to decide whether to pick up his player option. Thursday. Free agency begins on Friday. There is a market for Avery Bradley out there. I am told that he would like to stay in Los Angeles, but he wants another deal. He only has one year on this deal.
“If he opted out, they could then sign him to a larger deal, a longer-term deal, give him some security. But where are they finding that money from? How does that fit on the board with KCP, who also declined his player option. There is interest for KCP all around the league, he’s going to have other suitors.”
Shelburne also noted that Bradley now shares an agent with Dwight Howard. Bradley just recently changed his representation. It’s unclear what the implications are there in terms of what he’ll command, but, at the very least, it implies that he will in fact opt out of his contract and enter unrestricted free agency, something that Dave McMenamin of ESPN first reported was likely on Sunday.
If Bradley opts out of his contract, he is expected to be courted by the Milwaukee Bucks and Golden State Warriors, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. None of the Bucks, Warriors or Lakers will be able to sign him using cap space, but the Bucks and Warriors can offer him one of their exceptions, including the taxpayer mid-level exception, which is worth $6 million in the first year and can span over three years.
Losing Bradley wouldn’t be the worst thing for the Lakers, but neither would bringing him back, especially if his salary is big enough to be used in a trade down the line. That’s up to Bradley and his camp now, though. We’ll see what happens on or before Thursday.