Los Angeles Lakers big man Julius Randle is set to enter restricted free agency as his rookie scale deal expires this summer. He could accept a $5.5 million qualifying offer to stay with the club next season, but there are rumors that several teams are interested in offering the fourth-year forward a more substantial contract.
Of course, the Lakers have the right to match any offer sheet extended to Randle in free agency, but there is a probability that the Hollywood team may have to let him go if they successfully sign LeBron James and Paul George. LA Sports Hub’s Jason Reed listed four teams other than Los Angeles that could contend for Randle’s signature this summer, and one of them is the Indiana Pacers.
The Pacers are one of the dark horse teams in the current NBA Playoffs. Head coach Nate McMillan’s squad routed the defending Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers, 98-80, in Game 1 of their first-round series on Sunday. Indeed, as Reed coined it, “the sky is the limit for this young Pacers team.”
Whatever would be the result of Indiana’s current season, the team is expected to be an active participant in the coming free agency period as the team would try to further improve their roster. Reed said that Randle is “the perfect option” to add to the youthful dynamic duo of Victor Oladipo and Myles Turner, as it would make the Pacers a contender in the East “as early as next season.”
Randle, 23, is one of the Lakers’ best players this season. He began the season coming off the bench as head coach Luke Walton chose to include Larry Nance Jr. in the starting five.
The former Kentucky standout was inserted in the starting lineup in mid-December as Nance Jr. suffered a knee injury, and from there Randle had breakout performances one after the other. Randle ended the season strongly with team-high averages of 16.1 points and 8.0 rebounds in only 26.7 minutes per game, playing all 82 regular season games for the Lakers.
In a recent interview with Spectrum SportsNet’s Mike Bresnahan, Randle admitted that he was unsure where he will end up playing next season. He had previously expressed his desire to stay with the Lakers, but his fate would reportedly depend on how the summer turns out for Magic Johnson and company.