Julius Randle is one of the top free agency targets left for teams this offseason, but he is a restricted free agent which means the Los Angeles Lakers can match any offer that another team signs him to. After signing LeBron James, Lance Stephenson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and JaVale McGee last night, however, many thought that re-signing Randle was unlikely. That may not be the case.
According to a report from Shams Charania of Yahoo! Sports, the Lakers are set to meet with Randle and the forward is hoping to re-sign with the franchise to play alongside James.
Keeping Randle would be a huge move for the Lakers. James has been wanting to play with a young nucleus surrounding him and Randle is a big part of what Los Angeles has been doing over the past couple years. His game would fit nicely alongside James and would bring more toughness, rebounding, defense, and inside scoring.
Last season with the Lakers, Randle had the best season of his career, averaging 16.1 points per game to go along with 8.0 rebounds and 2.6 assists. He shot 55.8 percent from the floor overall and knocked down nearly 72 percent of his foul shots.
At 23-years-old, Randle is without question one of the most talented young forwards in the game. Many have compared him to Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green due to his ability to score, make plays, and defend at a high level.
Los Angeles has been linked to a few other big men, including DeMarcus Cousins and Nerlens Noel. Signing Randle would take them out of the running for any other key free agents. The Lakers are already thin on the cap space side of things, but re-signing Randle would make a lot of sense anyway.
James has made it clear to Magic Johnson that his signing with the Lakers is not contingent on them bringing other stars to Los Angeles. He simply wants to compete for rings, which building a young team around him could do. Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and Randle are all quality players that have great chemistry with each other.
Other teams have registered interest in Randle this offseason, but the excitement of playing in L.A. alongside James might be too much for those teams to overcome. It certainly sounds like the Lakers are at the top of Randle’s wishlist this offseason.
Expect to hear more news about Randle following his meeting with the Lakers today. He may not end up re-signing, but the two sides do appear interested in discussing potential terms of a deal. Stay tuned for more!