It is less than a week away before the NBA trade deadline and Julius Randle’s name remains to be a popular subject of trade rumors. Speculations abound that the Los Angeles Lakers forward has been in the Dallas Mavericks’ radar for quite some time now and that the Texas squad is reportedly “focusing” on completing a deal for him soon.
Basketball Insiders‘ Steve Kyler reported that Randle is still the Mavericks’ “preferred target” and that the club “will likely focus efforts” to acquire him as the deadline draws near. The 23-year-old big man is set to become a restricted free agent this summer, but the Mavs appear to be impatient to wait until then.
Randle, who is a Dallas native, was reportedly “aware” that the Lakers have placed him on the trade block since the beginning of the season, as per SportsDay. He said in an interview earlier this month that moving to play for his hometown team would be a “logical” step for him.
Randle insisted that he would continue to be a professional when it comes to playing for the Lakers and helping the Hollywood squad win as many games as they can this season.
“Whatever happens, happens. At the end of the day, I can only control what the player can control – and that’s my energy and effort going out there, being a professional. Dallas is my hometown. Obviously, I love the city of Dallas. But right now I’m an L.A. Laker.”
Randle’s great play this season has increased his trade value even higher. The former Kentucky standout is currently averaging 13.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 2.1 assists in only 23.5 minutes per game, mostly coming off the bench for head coach Luke Walton.
Lakers Nation‘s Corey Hansford said that the Mavericks could offer a package including Nerlens Noel and a future draft pick in exchange for Randle.
Noel, 23, is also a former Kentucky Wildcat and is the same age as Randle’s, but the two never played in the same college team together. Noel is still considered by some analysts as a potential future NBA star if nurtured in the right environment, and the Lakers may provide that kind of setting for the 2015 All-Rookie First Team member.
Noel has only played 18 games this season due to a left thumb injury. In December, he underwent surgery to repair the torn ligament and there is no timetable for a comeback, which could possibly hinder a deal.
However, Noel’s expiring contract would be attractive to the Lakers as the team is said to be looking to clear up as much cap space to sign two big-name free agents in the summer. The additional draft pick would also be valuable for L.A. as the club currently has no picks in the upcoming draft this June.