Julius Randle has played relatively well during the Los Angeles Lakers’ last few games with him back in the starting lineup. There are still consistency issues on the part of the former Kentucky standout, but his big performances in big games have continued to increase his trade market value.
After being scoreless against the San Antonio Spurs at the Staples Center on January 11, Randle led the Lakers with a double-double (23 points, 15 rebounds) in a road win over his hometown squad Dallas Mavericks two days later. Prior to the Spurs game, he also registered a double-double in a victory against the Sacramento Kings with 22 points, 14 rebounds, and six assists.
Randle has also been great coming off the bench. He started the season as a substitute player with head coach Luke Walton favoring to pair starting center Brook Lopez to the high-flying Larry Nance Jr. When Nance was injured in early November, Walton inserted rookie Kyle Kuzma at the starting power forward spot, leaving the 23-year-old on the bench.
He is currently averaging 13.3 points, 7.2 boards, and 2.0 assists in only 23.0 minutes per game, his lowest minutes since his rookie year but his highest scoring number since then as well.
In a different season, the Lakers would not have placed Randle on the trading block, but the management is planning to sign two superstars in the summer. The team would have to free up cap space to accommodate two max contracts, and with Randle set to become a restricted free agent, they could lose him for nothing this offseason.
With all that in mind, several clubs are rumored to be interested in trading for Randle. The Lakers are said to be dangling Randle and fellow 2014 draft-mate Jordan Clarkson with the team searching for future draft picks and expiring contracts, as per Lakers Nation.
Portland Trail Blazers
The Blazers are holding on for a playoff spot in the West with a 22-20 record, only a half-game ahead of eighth-seeded Denver Nuggets. The team is on a two-game losing slide after winning their prior three games.
Oregon Live reported that Portland could look to “tweak their frontcourt” with the trade deadline less than a month away, and Randle has emerged as one of their potential targets.
The report noted that Blazers starting center Jusuf Nurkic could be offered to the Lakers for a package that included Randle. Nurkic is currently at an affordable $2.9 million deal, and, like Randle, is set to become a restricted free agent in the summer.
Rumors are coming out that the Hornets are also looking to “make moves” before next month’s deadline and Randle, Pistons’ Tobias Harris, and Suns’ T.J. Warren were said to be in their sights, according to FanSided’s Swarm and Sting blog.
The blog said that trading for Randle is the “most likely” scenario since the Laker is already “on the trading block.” Charlotte is said to be hoping to get Randle at a “discounted price,” with a package that includes third-year player Frank Kaminsky and one or two of their future draft selections.
Kaminsky, 24, will become a restricted free agent in the summer of 2019. He is owed $3.6 million by the Hornets next season.
Despite the presence of Tyson Chandler, the Suns are evidently a young team right now with Devin Booker and Marquese Chriss leading the charge. They are still in the middle of rebuilding, and the team is reportedly leaning on adding a proven young player that “fits their timeline” than signing a veteran free agent, Bleacher Report noted.
Greg Monroe has become the Suns’ most valuable trade asset apart from Booker and Chriss, largely in thanks to his $17.9 million expiring contract.
The report said that while Monroe would not be a “needle-mover,” his veteran skills and inside presence could boost the Lakers’ morale at least this season. A trade that would send Monroe and a 2019 second-rounder to the Lakers for Randle and Clarkson was then suggested.
Monroe is set for unrestricted free agency this summer, ending the three-year, $51.4 million deal he signed with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2015.
Randle is a Dallas native, and speculations are high that he would most likely end up there. Prior to his incredible performance at the American Airlines Center last Saturday, Randle told reporters that he is “absolutely aware” of the rumors that the Lakers have made him available in the trade market and that the Mavs are a “logical trade partner,” via SportsDay.
Randle said that he is just focusing on what he “can control,” and that is to continue to give the same kind of “energy and effort going out there.” He then said that he loves his hometown Dallas, but that he is still a Laker at the moment.
“Dallas is my hometown. Obviously, I love the city of Dallas. But right now I’m an L.A. Laker.”
There are rumors that the Mavericks are planning to deal 23-year-old center Nerlens Noel. With the Lakers reportedly on the lookout for a young rim protector, some analysts believe that they could take a chance at getting Noel.
Like Monroe, Noel will become an unrestricted free agent in July. Noel is currently on a $4.2 million qualifying offer with the Mavericks.