The NBA will resume play later in July, but that doesn’t mean all players will be rejoining their teams and heading to Orlando. There is still the threat of the coronavirus, which has spiked recently in Florida, one of the first states to reopen.
The league made it clear it would not penalize players for not wanting to play in Orlando. Players can choose to opt out and not play the remainder of the season. They will forgo their remaining salary but will face no other discipline.
So far, the list of players who have elected not to return is small, but those choosing to stay home could have an impact on the remainder of the season.
Trevor Ariza, Portland
The Trail Blazers have a legitimate shot at capturing the No. 8 seed in the West. Ariza was acquired in a trade at midseason to give Portland help up front. He was averaging 11.0 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. He will not join Portland in Orlando as he will be staying home with his young son.
The loss of Ariza will be cushioned by the return of Zach Collins and Jusuf Nurkic. Both were out due to injury but will return having had ample time to recover.
Davis Bertans, Washington
Bertrans is a 27-year-old Latvian who has been in the league for four years. He will opt out of the restart for one simple reason – money. Bertrans will be one of the most highly sought after free agents when the season ends.
He was enjoying his best NBA season with the Wizards averaging 15.4 points and 4.5 rebounds. The 6-10 Bertrans has had two previous ACL injuries and his Wizards have virtually zero chance of making the playoffs.
Avery Bradley, Los Angeles Lakers
Like Ariza, Bradley will stay home to take care of his son, Liam. Bradley’s son has a history of not doing well with respiratory illness. The coronavirus is a respiratory virus and Bradley does not want to take any chances. Bradley was playing 24 minutes a game this season for the Lakers.
Willie Cauley-Stein, Dallas
The former No. 6 overall pick will not return to play this season. He and his partner are expecting a child right about the time play will begin in Orlando. Cauley-Stein was averaging 7.9 points and 6.2 rebounds for the Mavericks. With his roster spot open, Dallas will likely sign guard Trey Burke.