Julius Randle reportedly isn’t coming back to the Los Angeles Lakers, and suddenly the team on top of the world after signing LeBron James may have some more work to do to fill the roster around him.
Shortly after news leaked that LeBron was signing a four-year deal with the Lakers, NBA.com’s David Aldridge made it clear that Randle would not be coming back to the Lakers. As the SB Nation blog Silver Screen and Roll noted, Aldridge said the Lakers would be wasting their time trying to bring back the young role player, who could now be headed elsewhere.
The Lakers had shown their interest in Randle, extending a $5.6 million qualifying offer to him in the days leading up to the start of free agency, and the team would have 48 hours to match another offer.
The SB Nation report noted that Randle was likely miffed at the inconsistent playing time this season, even though he averaged a team-best 16.1 points per game and was one of the most efficient players on the Lakers.
His departure would create some more question marks for the Lakers, especially who will be in the frontcourt alongside Kyle Kuzma. If the current NBA rumors are any indication, that could be any number of players not yet on the Lakers. Reports have indicated that the team is hot in pursuit of big man DeMarcus Cousins, and Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard is still determined to join the Lakers, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported.
One thing that remains unclear is how much input LeBron James could have in the decision to replace Julius Randle, should he actually leave the Lakers. In Cleveland and Miami before that, LeBron was able to play the role of player-GM, heavily influencing many of the team’s personnel decisions. There was no indication of whether the Lakers planned to give him any say over the roster, but that could be an important factor given that LeBron ended his free agency in less than 20 hours and could help shape the team’s strategy going forward.
While Julius Randle may be planning to leave the Los Angeles Lakers, the market may make another decision for him. As SB Nation noted, there is not believed to be a lot of interest in Randle outside of Los Angeles (not at the price he would hope to fetch, at least), so he could end up back with the Lakers by default.