The Los Angeles Lakers are expected to pursue LeBron James and Paul George this summer, but they also need to address the future of their own free agents. Isaiah Thomas and Julius Randle will hit the market after the 2017-18 NBA season, and it remains to be seen whether the Lakers will decide to keep them.
The Lakers will likely chase their top targets first before addressing the future of Thomas and Randle. According to Gabe Zaldivar of Forbes, the Lakers should just get rid of Thomas in the offseason and do anything necessary to keep Randle in Los Angeles.
Thomas was sent to the Lakers during a trade-deadline deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The All-Star point guard made it clear several times that he does not want to come off the bench, which created speculation that he would leave the Lakers in the offseason. The Lakers already have their point guard of the future in Lonzo Ball.
However, the 29-year-old recently had a change of heart. According to Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times, Thomas is now open to staying with the Lakers even if it means he would get the same backup role. He pointed out that the organization has been great to him, and he wants to remain a Laker “if things work out” this summer.
But while Thomas appears ready to continue wearing the purple and gold, Zaldivar believes the Lakers should not bring Thomas back next season. He said that the Lakers are already moving in the right direction, which is the reason why he thinks there is no room for a one-dimensional player and a defensive liability like Thomas. It is also worth noting that the former Washington standout is still obviously trying to regain his rhythm after recovering from a hip injury.
Randle’s situation is very different, according to Zaldivar. He is convinced that Los Angeles will do themselves a huge favor if they decide to keep the former Kentucky standout. The 23-year-old is giving the Lakers reasons to re-sign him this summer, as he is averaging 23.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game this month.
Zaldivar said that if the Lakers cannot make a room for Randle and two max-level superstars, they should just consider keeping the fourth-year forward to keep their momentum going. If they decide to give Randle a new deal, they can use their remaining cap space to nab one superstar and players who can add depth to their roster next season.