NBA players who will be MIA in Orlando

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June 29th, 2020

The NBA landscape will look radically different in late July when the league resumes its 2019-20 season in Orlando. Not only will eight of the league’s 30 teams be absent, but several of the Association’s most recognizable faces will also be staying home as their teammates battle for the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

Here’s an updated list of players who have informed the league they will not be participating in the NBA’s ambitious restart plan.

Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn Nets)

Irving has been, without question, the most vocal detractor of the NBA’s plans to resume play. The outspoken point guard led a Zoom call with more than 80 of his fellow players on June 12, in which he expressed grave concern over how a return to business as usual could distract the public from the Black Live Movement.

"I don’t support going into Orlando," Irving told his peers. "I’m not with the systematic racism and the bulls***. Something smells a little fishy."

Irving has long supported social justice reform, and was adamant that he is "willing to give up everything I have" to draw attention to the cause. His absence will largely be symbolic in nature, as Irving is still rehabbing from shoulder surgery and is unavailable to play.

Avery Bradley (Los Angeles Lakers)

Bradley, who was one of the many players on Irving’s Zoom call, announced on June 23 that he would not be joining his Laker teammates in Orlando. His decision was based primarily on the health of his six-year-old son Liam, who has a history of respiratory illnesses.

"As committed to my Laker teammates and the organization as I am, I ultimately play basketball for my family," Bradley said. "And so, at a time like this, I can't imagine making any decision that might put my family's health and well-being at even the slightest risk.”

Bradley’s minutes will likely go to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who started 20 games during the regular season, and Dion Waiters, whom the Lakers signed on Mar. 6.

Willie Cauley-Stein (Dallas Mavericks)

Family concerns are also on the mind of Willie Cauley-Stein. The Dallas Mavericks center has informed the NBA he will not to travelling to Orlando as he and his partner are expecting a child in July.

Cauley-Stein was traded to Dallas by Golden State on Jan. 25, and averaged 5.2 points and 4.6 rebounds in 13 games. The Mavs have already given his roster sport to free agent guard Trey Burke, who most recently played with the 76ers.

Davis Bertans (Washington Wizards)

Unlike Irving and Bradley, Bertans’s decision to stay clear of Orlando is neither noble nor selfless. The 6-foot-10 power forward will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and is leery of suffering an injury after posting career-highs in points, rebounds, assists, blocks, and steals during his first season in Washington.

Bertans’s decision has been criticized by some of his fellow players, including Orlando Magic guard Evan Fournier, who tweeted, "This is what’s wrong with the NBA nowadays man."

Trevor Ariza (Portland Trail Blazers)

When it comes to parenting, Trevor Ariza doesn’t play around. The Trail Blazers forward has opted out of the NBA’s restart plan because it coincides with the one-month visitation period he has been granted to see his 12-year-old son.

Ariza’s loss will be offset by the return of big men Zach Collins and Jusuf Nurkic, both of whom are now healthy and ready for action after missing the vast majority of the 2019-20 season.

DeMarcus Cousins (Free Agent)

There has been no shortage of suitors for DeMarcus Cousins heading into the playoffs, but the four-time All-Star announced on June 23 that he intends to stay home and continue his rehab.

Cousins’ decision is particularly bad news for the Lakers, who were believed to be the frontrunners to acquire his services. L.A. will now enter Orlando with two big questions marks in their frontcourt. Starting center JaVale McGee has a pre-existing respiratory condition that could put him at risk, and back-up big man Dwight Howard has been openly critical of the NBA’s plans to return to action in light of the ongoing social unrest in America. Losing either player would be a devastating blow to the Lakers’ championship aspirations.

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