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2018-19 Clippers Exit Interview: Avery Bradley

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NBA: Utah Jazz at Los Angeles Clippers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Name: Avery Bradley

Age: 28

Years in NBA: 9

Key Stats:

Clippers career: 55 games, averaging 8.3 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 0.6 steals in 29.6 minutes per game. His splits: 39.4/32.6/81.5

In 2018-19, Bradley appeared in 49 games for the Clippers shooting just 38.3 percent from the field and averaging 8.2 points in 29.9 minutes per game.

2018-19 Salary: $12 million

Future Contract Status: Bradley, who was traded to the Grizzlies in February, has a $12.96 million team option for 2019-20.

Summary:

On paper, following the Blake Griffin trade and the return to health of Patrick Beverley, the Clippers looked to have two potential lockdown defenders in the backcourt. Bradley, who has long been a personal favorite of Head Coach Doc Rivers, was arguably the player with the higher upside. He turned 28 during the season and despite some mileage, he was still considerably spry, athletic and represented the potential 3-and-D kind of wing the Clippers sorely needed.

As Celtics fans learned over the course of nearly seven seasons, relying on Avery Bradley to perform up to expectations and/or stay healthy is a losing proposition. Bradley struggled to find his way throughout his brief stint in L.A. He played just seven games after being acquired from the Pistons in January 2018 before being shut down due to injury. In 2018-19, Bradley’s ability to stay healthy was in effect THE problem. He ate up valuable developmental minutes from rookies Jerome Robinson and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and even Tyrone Wallace, while also not providing enough value to justify playing him. There were considerations that Rivers was auditioning Bradley for a trade. There were ideas that benching Bradley would have been disruptive to team chemistry because he was well liked. There was even the notion that Rivers was playing a favorite of his more than necessary because, in short, he just “trusted him.”

It was probably no coincidence, though, that the Clippers went 5-1 during the season when Bradley was inactive and went 18-9 after trading him to Memphis. Overall, that’s a 23-10 record without Avery Bradley. Arguably, the best thing about Bradley was the decision to get rid of him in favor of two contributors, including one would-be-starter in the playoffs.

Strengths

Bradley was considered a defensive stopper, capable of guarding three positions, being a plus rebounder, above average passer, and corner 3-point shooter. In 55 games in L.A., you would be hard pressed to find any of those strengths that went according to plan consistently.

Weaknesses

Bradley’s inconsistency was arguably his greatest weakness. The aforementioned strengths were all theoretical or based on what we saw when he was healthy in Boston. While personality meshed well with the roster, his on-court performance was abysmal for long stretches. Yes, he had a seven-game stretch in double-figure scoring shortly before he was traded. But he had just eight games all year in which made more than two 3-pointers and had more than two steals in a game just once. He played nearly 30 minutes per game and often led the team in minutes in games where he seemed borderline unplayable.

Future with the Clippers

I don’t think Rivers’ opinion of Bradley has changed in terms of valuing his character, and at 28, he surely has some years left as an NBA reserve or spot starter. However, considering the Clippers logjam at the guard position with much more talented, younger players, there is very little scenario in which Bradley would return.

Final year grade: D+

I completely understand that a number of readers and Clippers fans would prefer this grade be an F. However, his dunk in the final moments of their two-point loss versus the Warriors in December brought it up to D level. The plus? If you consider that Bradley getting traded to Memphis netted JaMychal Green AND Garrett Temple, you have to raise his performance a little bit, right? I mean, Bradley’s team option deal was perceived as a friendlier for the Grizzlies than Green and Temple’s expiring contract. In reality, it’s like the Grizzlies just did the Clippers a a solid, dealing them two players who contributed in the playoffs.

As for Bradley’s season, to say it was a disappointment would be a little too lenient. The Clippers needed him to be what he was in his first stint playing for Doc Rivers. Instead he looked at times more like someone who belonged in another professional league, galaxies from the NBA.