Julius Randle

Extension Rumors: Randle, Smart, McDermott, LaVine

As I detailed this morning, Monday isn’t just the last day of 2017 for fourth-year players to sign rookie scale extensions — it’s also the final day that extension-eligible veterans can sign new deals if they have more than one year remaining on their current contracts. That’s why veteran players like Spurs big man LaMarcus Aldridge are engaged in talks about possible extensions.

Here are a few more of the latest updates on extension-eligible players:

  • The Lakers and Julius Randle had “cordial conversations” about a new deal, but everyone understands the club’s salary cap situation, tweets Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. With L.A. looking to preserve 2018 cap room, no extension is expected for Randle.
  • Barring a sudden change, Marcus Smart and the Celtics are set to let today’s deadline pass without a new deal in place, a league source tells Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link). Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald tweets a similar sentiment, citing a source who says there’s “a pulse but not much else” in the Smart negotiations.
  • The Knicks are “highly unlikey” to sign newly-acquired sharpshooter Doug McDermott to a new deal today, tweets Ian Begley of ESPN. As Begley observes, there’s no rush for the Knicks, who will have all season to see how McDermott fits in New York.
  • K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune suggested over the weekend that it’s a matter of when – not if – the Bulls lock up Zach LaVine to a new contract. It appears the “when” won’t be today though. Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link) hears from a source that a rookie scale extension for LaVine is “not likely.”

Extension Rumors: LaVine, Capela, Smart, Randle

Earlier today, Andrew Wiggins became the fourth 2014 first-rounder to reach an agreement on a rookie scale extension with his current team, joining Joel Embiid, Gary Harris, and T.J. Warren. That still leaves 17 players eligible for a rookie scale extension up until the October 16 deadline.

Not all of those players are strong candidates for a new deal. It’s extremely unlikely, for instance, that the Raptors will extend Bruno Caboclo within the next few days, and we shouldn’t bet on Shabazz Napier getting a new long-term deal from Portland. Still, a number of viable candidates remain unsigned.

Here are the latest notes and rumors on some of those extension-eligible players:

  • ESPN’s Kevin Pelton (Insider link) identifies Aaron Gordon (Magic), Elfrid Payton (Magic), Zach LaVine (Bulls), Jusuf Nurkic (Trail Blazers), and Rodney Hood (Jazz) as the most logical candidates for extensions among the group of remaining eligible players.
  • There’s “nothing substantive” so far between LaVine and the Bulls, but that could change by next Monday, TNT’s David Aldridge writes in his rundown of extension candidates at NBA.com. Aldridge – who examines each 2014 first-rounder individually – is also somewhat bullish on the possibility of new deals for Nurkic, Hood, and Rockets big man Clint Capela.
  • Marcus Smart said earlier this week that his agent has yet to hear from the Celtics about a possible extension. Today, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge didn’t exactly offer clarity on the subject, indicating that he has had “talks” about a new contract for Smart, but no “negotiations” (Twitter link via Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald).
  • Julius Randle is extension-eligible, but his future with the Lakers is linked to the team’s pursuit of 2018 free agents, as Bill Oram of The Orange County Register details. Although Randle says his reps have been in touch with the Lakers, an extension this year is an extreme long shot.

Extension Candidate: Julius Randle

For the third straight season, Julius Randle made progress establishing himself as a significant factor in the Lakers’ frontcourt. However, that progress won’t impact whether or not the 22-year-old inks a contract extension prior to the October 16th deadline.Julius Randle vertical

No, Randle’s fate – perhaps more than any other player headed into the final year of a rookie contract – is tied to the lofty ambitions of the franchise that he plays for.

Put simply, the Lakers are all-in on preserving cap space for the 2018 free agency period — a period in which they’ll inevitably pursue LeBron James and Paul George. Or LeBron James and Russell Westbrook. Or LeBron James and any other star player who opts to test the waters next summer, it really just depends on which barber you ask.

This isn’t a knock on Randle. It’s a reality. The same reality that saw L.A. ship D’Angelo Russell out of town just to alleviate the club’s $16MM obligation to Timofey Mozgov in 2018/19.

Signing Randle to any extension in the realm of what he would justifiably qualify for before the October deadline would unnecessarily eat into the room that the Lakers would need in order to make a big, nay, massive splash next offseason. As it stands, Los Angeles has just under $54MM on their books for the 2018/19 season and you can bet the farm that they club will do anything within reason to unload Luol Deng‘s 18MM as soon as conceivably possible.

Of course, the Lakers can always circle back to Randle as a restricted free agent once they have a better idea of how their 2018 offseason will play out, but that obviously comes with inherent risk. It’s not inconceivable that Randle will raise his value this season and coax an aggressive offer sheet out of a team with cap space to burn.

So the question isn’t whether Randle will earn a contract extension in the next month – that almost certainly won’t happen – but rather if his play thus far has warranted it.

In his two full seasons with the Lakers, Randle has averaged just under a double double, putting up 12.2 PPG and 9.4 RPG while flashing impressive vision for a post player and a handle reminiscent of a slightly less polished Blake Griffin (that’s still a good thing).

Randle’s per-36 numbers ooze Zach Randolph-esque potential and the fact that he’s a productive contributor who doesn’t require much of the spotlight bodes well for a Lakers team that has every intention of filling the lineup around him with stars.

Expect Randle, already a competent third or fourth option, to take yet another step forward in 2017/18. The power forward has committed to improving his physical conditioning this summer and will now play alongside Lonzo Ball, one of the most exciting playmakers to come into the league in years.

We saw excellent rebound and assist rates out of Randle last season, as well as a modest 13.2 points per contest. That last figure could jump up to a more headline-worthy level, conveniently ahead of July 2018, when he hits the market for the first time.

If the pending restricted free agent drives his value to a level that precludes Los Angeles from retaining him, then that’s simply a consequence of the Lakers’ own ambition.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Kyler’s Latest: Parker, Embiid, A. Gordon, Hood

Andrew Wiggins‘ case for a contract extension has received most of the attention so far this summer, but Wiggins is just one of 21 players heading into the final year of their respective rookie contracts who are eligible for rookie scale extensions this offseason.

In his latest piece for Basketball Insiders, Steve Kyler takes a closer look at several of those extension-eligible players, so let’s dive in and round up the highlights…

  • There’s a sense that the Bucks are open to getting something done this offseason with Jabari Parker, since they’re confident he’ll make a full recovery from his latest ACL tear, sources tell Kyler. However, Milwaukee would almost certainly ask Parker to accept a team-friendly rate, so he’s more likely to play out his final year and seek out a new deal next summer as a restricted free agent.
  • There’s a “growing sense” that the Sixers will extend Joel Embiid, but it remains to be seen whether he’ll accept an offer worth less than the max, writes Kyler. A deal structured like Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s four-year, $100MM extension might make sense if Embiid doesn’t want to push hard for a max contract.
  • With a new management team in place in Orlando, the Magic are expected to take a wait-and-see approach to a new deal for Aaron Gordon, unless he’s willing to sign at a discounted rate for the sake of long-term security, says Kyler.
  • If the Celtics lock up Marcus Smart to a long-term deal, it’s more likely to happen in 2018 than this offseason, per Kyler.
  • With the Lakers looking to maximize their 2018 cap room, Julius Randle has a better chance to be traded at some point before February’s deadline than he does to be extended before the season, according to Kyler.
  • Sources tell Kyler that Rodney Hood and his camp are “very open” to negotiating an extension with the Jazz. The Basketball Insiders scribe estimates that something in the Evan Turner range (four years, $70MM) might be an appropriate price point for Hood.

West Notes: Randle, Noel, Donovan

With all of the hype surrounding the Lakers these days, those who’ve overlooked Julius Randle can be forgiven. As Frank Urbina of Hoops Hype writes, however, the underrated big man could still be a viable component of Los Angeles’ intriguing young core.

While his effective field-goal percentage and value over replacement player figures have left much to be desired, the versatile forward is in position to take yet another leap forward in his third full season with the Lakers.

In 2016/17, Randle became just the ninth forward in NBA history to average 13.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game, a testament to his playmaking ability and tendency to find his Lakers teammates.

What’s more, the Lakers big man has shown an impressive commitment to conditioning and has the Instagram account to prove it.

There’s more from the Western Conference:

  • We wrote yesterday that Nerlens Noel unexpectedly signed his qualifying offer with the Mavs after supposedly turning down a four-year, $70MM offer. At the time of the signing, ESPN’s Chris Haynes tweeted that the four-year deal was “non-existent.” Shortly after news broke, Noel’s former agent Happy Walters responded to the Haynes tweet, insisting that the deal was in fact extended and rejected, however that doesn’t necessarily mean that the offer was still on the table when Noel’s new representation, Rich Paul and Klutch Sports Group, took over in the negotiation process. For a breakdown of the process, check out Isaac Harris of The Smoking Cuban‘s recap.
  • Former Spurs guard Blake Ahearn has returned to the organization he spent his three-game career with as a head coach of the Spurs’ G League affiliate. Ahearn recently spoke with Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News and shed light on how much of an impact R.C. Buford and the team’s front office made on him.
  • Big man Steven Adams and his Thunder head coach, Billy Donovan, have spent time bonding in Adams’ native New Zealand, Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman writes. “For me, there’s an incredible power with a group of people that are connected in what they’re doing,” Donovan said. “I feel like my job, my role, my responsibility – whether it be during the season or in the offseason – is to try and create those connections. Because if we’re all unified, connected and moving in the right direction, it has a chance to be something really powerful.

Pacific Notes: Ball, Randle, Reed, Williams

Before he even suits up for a regular season game with the Lakers, Lonzo Ball has already made an impact on the team, J.A. Adande of ESPN writes. The scribe notes that the Lakers just sold the rest of its season ticket inventory and a recent season ticket viewing open house — which only yielded 175 sales last season — sold over 600 available seats for next season.

Ball certainly made an impression in the Las Vegas Summer League, taking home Most Valuable Player honors and generating headlines by simply wearing different brands of sneakers. Also, Adande notes that five summer league contests that generated the highest ratings were Lakers games. Despite being just 19 years old, Ball has become a polarizing figure and, in the early stages, living up to the hype generated by his outspoken father, LaVar Ball.

It will not be an easy feat to secure Rookie of the Year honors, or speak his father’s words of bringing the Lakers to the playoffs in 2017/18 into existence. However, playing a city and for a team that prides itself on Showtime, Ball has given the organization and its fans something to get excited about.

Here are additional notes from around the Pacific Division:

  • Julius Randle is entering his fourth NBA season and coming off a season where he averaged 13.2 PPG and 8.6 RPG in 74 contests. Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News writes that Randle is hoping to find improvement next season after altering his conditioning program and trimming down his body weight.
  • The Clippers signed Willie Reed to a team-friendly one-year, $1.5MM deal and he’s happy to be with the team, Basketball Insiders’ Cody Taylor writes. Blake Griffin and Patrick Beverley were among the teammates to welcome Reed to L.A. and he’s excited to begin playing with the club.
  • Alan Williams has parlayed a lack of college interest, international play, and shoddy NBA workouts into a three-year, $17MM deal with the Suns. As Scott Bordow of Arizona Central Sports writes, Williams is grateful to have both cashed in with the deal and remained with the team he rooted for as a kid.
  • Speaking of Williams, the Suns’ cap space after the signing is $6.3MM though the team also owns a $12.1MM hold on 24-year-old international talent Alex Len, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (via Twitter).

Lakers, Pacers Engage On Paul George Talks

8:40pm: The Lakers engaged the Kings on a potential trade that would have involved the No. 2 pick going to Sacramento in exchange for Nos. 5 and 10, reports TNT’s David Aldridge (Twitter links). According to Aldridge, the Lakers’ goal was to package one of those Kings’ picks with one of the Lakers’ late first-rounders and a player in an effort to get George. However, the Kings turned them down.

Meanwhile, Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News (Twitter links) hears that the Lakers and Pacers are currently at a “standstill” in their talks, though it remains “highly likely” that Indiana will move George this week.

6:11pm: In the wake of their trade agreement with the Nets, the Lakers have offered the Pacers either Jordan Clarkson or Julius Randle along with the No. 27 and No. 28 picks in exchange for George, according to Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times (via Twitter). ESPN’s Marc Stein also reported the details of that package (via Twitter).

1:56pm: The Lakers and Pacers have engaged on trade talks for Paul George, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne. No deal is imminent at this point.

Los Angeles is considered George’s likely destination in 2018, raising questions about how aggressive the Lakers would be on the trade market for him. If the Lakers expect George to sign with them as a free agent a year from now, there would be little reason for the club to pursue him now and give up key assets to land him. However, it appears the Lakers are at least kicking the tires on what it would take to acquire George and get him in the fold sooner rather than later.

As for what the Lakers may be willing to offer, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical suggested earlier this week that the club isn’t expected to put the No. 2 overall pick or Brandon Ingram on the table. Wojnarowski said that a combination of Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, and the No. 28 pick might be the most the Lakers are open to giving up, though there’s no indication yet that those are the players being discussed by the two teams.

D’Angelo Russell is another player the Lakers could make available in George talks — ESPN’s Chad Ford reported (via Twitter) that the team may be dangling Russell in an effort to pick up another lottery pick. However, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders suggests (via Twitter) that’s not accurate, noting that Russell and George share an agent, who would likely prefer to see his two clients together in L.A. (Twitter link) — Sam Amick of USA Today (Twitter link) confirms as much. For what it’s worth, Randle is an Aaron Mintz client as well.

If the Lakers and Pacers make a serious effort to work out a deal, don’t expect Luol Deng or Timofey Mozgov to be involved. The Lakers are resisting that sort of salary dump at this point, since it would cost them draft picks or a young player, tweets Wojnarowski. Pincus adds (via Twitter) that removing Deng and/or Mozgov from the Lakers’ cap likely won’t become a priority until 2018, when the team goes after free agents.

While the Lakers are George’s preferred destination, a number of teams are reportedly exploring the possibility of landing the star forward, even as a one-year rental. The Clippers, Cavaliers, and Rockets have been cited as possible trade partners for Indiana, and according to Amico Hoops, the Wizards are also investigating the possibility of a deal.

Woj’s Latest: Pacers, George, Lakers, Knicks

Before Paul George‘s camp informed the Pacers that George expects to opt out and leave Indiana next year, the team had been considering pursuing some notable free agents, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. On his latest podcast with Bobby Marks, Wojnarowski identifies point guard Jrue Holiday and forward Danilo Gallinari as a pair of veterans being eyed by the Pacers.

However, according to Wojnarowski, George didn’t want the Pacers to make major moves for his benefit this offseason, locking themselves into big free agent contracts in the hopes that he would be willing to re-sign. With George’s days in Indiana now numbered, the club will likely forgo its potential pursuit of free agents like Holiday and Gallinari.

Here are some more highlights from Wojnarowski’s conversation with Marks, which centered on George but touched on a few other topics as well:

  • Although Larry Bird is no longer the Pacers‘ president, he’s still a consultant for the team, and he likely wants to avoid sending George to his old rivals in Los Angeles for pennies on the dollar, Wojnarowski observes. Still, Wojnarowski and Marks don’t expect George’s camp to help accommodate a trade to any team besides the Lakers, since the star forward may simply prefer to stay with the Pacers for one more season rather than being sent to a team he’ll likely leave in a year.
  • The Lakers won’t offer Brandon Ingram or the No. 2 overall pick in a package for George, according to Wojnarowski, who predicts that L.A. wouldn’t offer the Pacers more than some combination of Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, and the No. 28 pick.
  • As the Lakers look ahead to the 2018 offseason, which could see them going after top free agents like George and LeBron James, they’ll want to clear Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng from their books. However, Wojnarowski says the only way that will happen is if the club is willing to attach a first-round pick or a talented young player like D’Angelo Russell to one of those bad contracts. Using the stretch provision on the duo in the summer of 2018 probably makes more sense for L.A.
  • In Wojnarowski’s view, the door was open for the Knicks to be in the Chris Paul discussion this summer, since there’s no perfect fit for CP3 if he wants to leave the Clippers. In theory, the Knicks could have been that fit, but with Phil Jackson and the triangle around, nobody is talking about wanting to play in New York, says Woj.
  • Continuing his discussion of the Knicks, Wojnarowski suggests that Jackson’s treatment of Carmelo Anthony has soured many veterans on New York. In particular, Anthony’s friends like Paul, LeBron, and Dwyane Wade view Carmelo’s situation as a cautionary tale, and that view seems to be widely shared around the NBA.

Lakers Rumors: Ball, Russell, Randle, LeBron

ESPN’s Chad Ford reported earlier today that sources believe the Lakers moved “closer and closer” over the weekend to making Lonzo Ball their pick at No. 2, Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report shares a similar sentiment in his latest column. According to Ding, the Lakers are “nearing a final decision” to use the second overall pick on Ball.

Team sources tell Ding that there are still some additional discussions and final planning that will take place before the Lakers are on the clock on Thursday, but Ball’s second pre-draft meeting with the club on Friday was a productive one. An “appreciation for Ball’s all-around upside” has emerged within the Lakers in recent weeks, according to Ding.

Here are a few more Lakers-related notes and rumors:

  • There are ongoing questions within the Lakers’ organization about how D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle take criticism, team sources tell Ding within the article linked above. Neither player advanced as far in 2016/17 as Luke Walton had hoped, according to Ding, who says Russell was “inconsistent with his professionalism” while Randle “often lost messages given to him if they were delivered harshly.”
  • Trading Jordan Clarkson for a current or future draft pick would make “a ton of sense” for the Lakers, given their desire to continue stockpiling assets and maintaining cap flexibility, says Ding. Clarkson is rumored to be on the trade block.
  • Ding also touches on the LeBron James rumors that have surfaced within the last week or two, citing sources who say that James’ wife would like to live in Los Angeles full-time. Multiple recent reports have suggested that LeBron opting out and joining one of the L.A. teams in 2018 is a possibility.
  • League sources tell Jake Fischer of SI.com (Twitter link) that the Lakers have expressed no interest in trading the No. 2 overall pick at this juncture. We heard last week that L.A. was “taking and making calls” related to that selection, but it seems those calls may not be happening anymore.
  • Mark Medina of The Orange County Reigster spoke to former Gonzaga big man Zach Collins following his Monday workout with the Lakers, suggesting that Collins will likely only be on L.A.’s radar if the team makes a trade. We heard this morning that the Lakers may be trying to acquire a second lottery pick.

Clippers Express Interest In Paul George

The Clippers have expressed interest in Paul George, reports Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. For Los Angeles to be a serious contender in the George sweepstakes, the Pacers would likely have to be willing to wait until July to finalize a trade.

As Deveney writes, the Clippers’ best chance to make a trade involving a highly-paid player like George would involve signing-and-trading one of their top free agents. While Chris Paul and Blake Griffin will be among those free agents, the Clips’ dream scenario would likely be using another UFA, J.J. Redick, in a sign-and-trade, then forming a Big Four with Paul, Griffin, George, and DeAndre Jordan.

That scenario is probably a long shot, since the Clippers don’t have first-round picks in 2017 or 2019, and acquiring Redick on an expensive new deal may not appeal to Indiana. But if any team besides the Lakers should feel confident in its ability to lock up George beyond 2018, the Clippers might might be that team, given their ability to get PG13 to his preferred city.

Here are several more George rumors or notes, in the wake of Sunday’s report that he plans on leaving the Pacers:

  • The Cavaliers and Pacers have been immersed in trade talks regarding George, league sources tell Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net. According to Amico, Cleveland’s interest in George has been described as “legit,” but pulling off a deal could be “very complicated.”
  • Two NBA sources who spoke to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer (Twitter link) expect the Lakers to get involved in George trade talks if it appears the Cavaliers are moving close to a deal. However, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter links) is skeptical that the Lakers would move young players like D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle for George, suggesting that Jordan Clarkson is a more likely trade candidate. Meanwhile, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reports that the Lakers currently appear unwilling to part with any of their young assets in a trade with the Pacers.
  • The Rockets are worth keeping an eye on in the George sweepstakes, according to Sean Deveney, who observes that Daryl Morey is generally willing to roll the dice on impact players without getting a long-term commitment.
  • The Heat like George, but – given their lack of tradeable first-round picks – probably don’t have the assets to acquire him, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.
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