The departure of Julius Randle in Los Angeles is inevitable, especially if the Lakers succeeded to acquire two superstars in the upcoming free agency. Signing two maximum-salaried players will require the Lakers to renounce all their incoming free agents, including Randle, and stretch Luol Deng’s contract.
Based on his improving performance this season, Julius Randle is expected to be one of the most coveted players in the free agency market this summer. According to Bobby Marks of ESPN, Randle’s market could be around $12-14 million per year. Aside from the Lakers, four NBA teams, including the Dallas Mavericks, Sacramento Kings, Brooklyn Nets, and Atlanta Hawks, could offer Randle a four-year, $56 million deal.
All the teams mentioned are currently in the middle of a rebuilding process and could make Randle part of their long-term plan. The Mavericks have been frequently linked to Randle since the Lakers decided not to give him a contract extension. Signing with the Nets will let the 23-year-old power forward reunite with his former Lakers teammate D’Angelo Russell. Unlike when the season started, Randle is no longer worried about his NBA future, believing he has a place in the league whether he stays in Los Angeles or not after this season.
Since he returned to the starting lineup, Julius Randle continues to establish an impressive performance on both ends of the floor. In the last seven games, he’s averaging 23.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 3.3 assists while shooting 60 percent from the field. Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN believes Randle is trying to change the narrative about him, and as of now, the Lakers must be starting to think twice if they will just let him walk away in the upcoming offseason or not.
Lakers Head Coach Luke Walton has been a huge part of Randle’s development. When he failed to secure an extension, Walton told Randle to prove the organization wrong by showing what he can do inside the court. Walton admitted that he’s challenging Randle harder than any other player on their team. Despite the rumors of his potential departure in Los Angeles, Randle is still hoping that he will remain a Laker next season.
“It would be tough to say no to L.A., honestly,” Randle said. “It is the place that drafted me. I would love to be here. I have to do what is best for the family and hopefully, they want me here as well.”
According to David Yapkowitz of Basketball Insider, the Lakers’ No. 1 priority in free agency shouldn’t be Paul George or LeBron James but Julius Randle. Being a restricted free agent, the Lakers will only need to match any offer to bring Randle back. However, teams like the Mavericks, Kings, Nets and the Hawks are expected to throw away a huge offer just to add him to their team.