The Los Angeles Lakers will have a few big decisions to make this offseason. Will it be LeBron James or Paul George? Will the Lakers keep Isaiah Thomas or will they go after no big name free agents until 2019? But the biggest of them all will be what to do with Julius Randle?
For a season and a half, Randle has been tied to trade rumors. This season, Rob Pelinka was sure to finally get a trade done as Randle fell out of favor in Luke Walton’s rotation for a brief minute. However, during that time, Randle caught a spark and since his reinstatement of sorts, he’s been arguably the Lakers’ best player.
This season, Randle is averaging 15.5 points and 7.7 rebounds, but he’s doing that in 25 minutes per and only 10 shot attempts per game. Think that’s bad? Imagine being the starting power forward one season then get replaced by a rookie the next just to see his game hit the “rookie wall” and the team needs you again. This is what Randle has had to endure with the Kyle Kuzma hype. But Randle never let it get to him and, if it did, he never let it show.
He never tried the Phil Jackson zen approach and gave subtle hints in the press. Randle just worked on his game and the end results have been outstanding.
The Lakers Must Keep Julius Randle
Check Randle’s production over the last 12 games when his minutes began to increase to 30+. During that time, according to Sports Reference, Randle has scored 20+ points seven times while grabbing 10+ rebounds five times and still found time to squeeze a triple-double in there just for good measure. While the talk has been of the Lakers’ improvement since Lonzo Ball returned from injury, the real reason for the Lakers great play has been Randle. But still, are the Lakers’ brass completely sold on his future with the team?
One could look to the non-trade and think so but what happens if Pelinka has a chance to sign LeBron of George? Will Pelinka let Randle walk or pay him what he deserves? What the Lakers must come to terms with is chemistry. For the past two years since the retirement of Kobe Bryant, the Lakers have searched for a team that could contend and may have accomplished that with this young core. While the season didn’t start well, the Lakers fought through their adversary and have a bright future with their current core.
LeBron and George could help put the Lakers back on the map but there is no guarantee they will win a championship with either while paying both a king’s ransom in the process. Randle is only 23-years-old, has proven himself on and off the court, and it’s only right that the Lakers show their gratitude.