Did you need anymore confirmation that Julius Randle won’t be part of the Los Angeles Lakers after this season, as their attempts to reel in multiple superstar free agents soldiers?
Probably not, because this has been talked about ad nauseam. But ESPN.com’s Adrian Wojnarowski has your additional confirmation anyway (via Lakers Outsiders):
— Lakers Outsiders (@LakersOutsiders) November 9, 2017
Here’s more of what Woj said (via Bleacher Report’s Alec Nathan):
“Rob Pelinka, their general manager, and Magic Johnson, their president, will be faced with this question: Do they look to trade Randle between now and the February trade deadline and get back potentially a first-round draft pick for him, or do they roll the dice and wait until summer when he’s a restricted free agent.”
The decision isn’t really all that difficult. The Lakers are pot committed to this free-agency approach. They used D’Angelo Russell, a No. 2 pick, to lop off Timofey Mozgov’s salary. They’re probably prepared to do something similar with the remaining two years on Luol Deng’s contract.
Except, moving Deng could be more difficult. The Lakers don’t have their own pick this summer, so the next Lonzo Ball won’t be coming in to replace whoever the Lakers deal. They’ll have to dangle Brandon Ingram or Kyle Kuzma as the sweetener or hope that one or two of their future first-round picks does the trick.
Renouncing Randle will probably be part of their offseason approach (if they don’t trade him before that)—doubly so if they’re not able to move Deng for no incoming salary. Randle’s hold will sit at just over $12.4 million if the Lakers’ extend a qualifying offer, and they don’t need to do anything cute to save that money. They simply renounce his rights and let him walk.
Should they get word that neither LeBron James nor Paul George is coming this summer, maybe he sticks in Los Angeles beyond 2017-18. But, looking at how the Lakers have approached their cap management, the real surprise would be seeing Randle in Hollywood next season.