Julius Randle

Julius Randle Unsure Of His Importance To Lakers

The Lakers still may bring back Julius Randle, but for now the team and his representatives can’t agree on how serious negotiations have been, relays Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times.

GM Rob Pelinka insists the front office has made frequent calls to Randle’s agents and they have engaged in “a mutual exchange of interest and hoping that we can work something out for both sides.” Randle’s camp tells a much different story.

“We still have no indication of where Julius stands among the Lakers’ priorities, or if he is a priority at all,” said Aaron Mintz, Randle’s agent. “We are looking forward to the marketplace in July, when we will get a clear picture of Julius’ future.”

The Lakers have until June 30 to extend a qualifying offer to Randle, making him restricted when free agency begins July 1 and enabling the team to match any offer sheet. Randle has said he would like to remain in L.A., but the Lakers will be pursuing higher-profile targets with their cap space and a decision on Randle will be tied to their success. They would almost certainly need to renounce their rights to Randle to offer two max contracts.

Randle is coming off the best offensive season of his four-year career, averaging 16.1 points per game and shooting .558 from the floor. The Lakers declined to offer him an extension in October because they didn’t want to tie up any more future salary.

“The work that he put into it is what people don’t see and I think it was an enormous effort on his part,” Pelinka said. “The fact that it worked and translated to being one of his best seasons as a Lakers player really was not only great for him individually but was great for other guys to see, ‘Hey if we put in that work and you change your body it leads to good things for your performance.’ So I think that was an amazing process for us to see.”

Combine Notes: Porter, Bamba, Young, Hutchison

The Clippers have their eyes on Michael Porter Jr. and are hoping to use their picks at No. 12 and 13 to trade up in the draft, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. The Missouri forward, who missed almost the entire season with a back injury, could give L.A. a reliable scorer in the frontcourt. O’Connor notes that team owner Steve Ballmer stopped his session with the media at the combine to listen to Porter’s interview.

Porter, who is projected at No. 8 to the Cavaliers in the latest mock draft by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, told reporters he had combine interviews scheduled with 13 teams, including the Clippers. He also stated that he believes he’s “the best player in the draft.”

L.A.’s challenge is finding a team willing to trade down. O’Connor cites the Grizzlies, Mavericks, Magic and Bulls — who hold picks four through seven — as teams in need of multiple assets. However, it’s not clear if any of them is willing to move back in the draft, and O’Connor has heard that Memphis is planning to keep its No. 4 pick. The Grizzlies are looking for size, O’Connor adds, but are the only team in the top eight not to ask for a meeting with Texas center Mo Bamba.
O’Connor’s recap on the combine is filled with interesting tidbits. Here are a few of the highlights:
  • Bamba believes he could form a dangerous combination with Mavericks point guard Dennis Smith Jr., but Dallas may not be interested. With Dirk Nowitzki returning for another season, the Mavs will try to rebuild quickly to put a contending team around him. That means targeting a free agent big man such as DeAndre Jordan, DeMarcus Cousins or Julius Randle, which would make a scorer like Porter more attractive in the draft. O’Connor notes that Cousins’ agent, Jarinn Akana, has strong ties to the Mavericks. Of his 12 clients, five have played in Dallas and another was with its G League affiliate, Jaleel Cousins, who is DeMarcus’ brother.
  • The Knicks are interested in Oklahoma point guard Trae Young if he falls to the ninth pick. They see him as a good fit alongside last year’s first-rounder, Frank Ntilikina, who can take on the tougher defensive matchup and help space the floor for Young to drive to the basket. However, the Magic at No. 6 and the Cavaliers at No. 8 both need point guards, so Young could be off the board before New York’s selection.
  • It still isn’t clear who made a draft promise to Boise State forward Chandler Hutchison, but O’Connor was told he won’t drop into the late first round. Hutchison, who is expected to be taken between the 18th and 24th pick, held workouts for the Timberwolves and Bulls before withdrawing from the combine. It may or may not be a clue, but Hutchison’s agent, Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports, is a friend of Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf and has represented many Chicago players.
  • Kostas Antetokounmpo showed a lot of similarities to his older brother Giannis Antetokounmpo in his combine workouts. Kostas, 2o, could be a second-round pick and may be a valuable asset for a team to have when Giannis hits free agency in 2021.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2018: Los Angeles Lakers

For better or worse, the Lakers have known exactly what they wanted and how to get it for several seasons now. Now that the 2018 free agency period is upon us, we’ll see if the salary cap posturing was worth it. In an effort to make themselves an appealing destination for LeBron James and/or Paul George the club has neglected and even outright punted up-and-coming talent.

Given what’s at stake, any of Los Angeles’ own free agents will have to wait for dominoes to start falling before they can find out what kind of role – if any – is still available to them with the Lakers. Because of its history and location and all the inherent marketing opportunities that come along with being a celebrity in Hollywood, this organization is capable of things that nobody else is. Love it or hate, we’re going to see that on full display this summer.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, 25 (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $18MM deal in 2017
In today’s NBA there will always be a market for 3-and-D perimeter threats so whether it comes in Los Angeles or elsewhere, Caldwell-Pope should have no problem finding a suitor. That fact that he’s still only 25 years old only makes him all that more appealing. The problem, however – and the one thing standing between him and the max deal he allegedly sought last offseason – is that despite the guard’s legitimately impressive .423 three-point percentage after the All-Star Break, he’s never been a reliable go-to scoring option on a competitive team and appears to have a finite ceiling. Is the two-guard an untapped star or an elite niche player? I’d wager on the latter and caution any team desperate enough to pay him like the former.

Channing Frye, C, 35 (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $32MM deal in 2014
Frye saw a reduced role in 2017/18 after serving as a valuable depth piece for the championship-contender Cavaliers the past two seasons. Still, despite seeing his usage trend downward, the veteran is as sneaky dangerous as ever. It’s hard to imagine Frye earning much more than the veteran’s minimum in his 13th season but it’s easy to picture him knocking down critical threes for a contender come the 2019 postseason.

Andre Ingram, SG, 32 (Down) – Signed to a one-year deal in 2018
Ingram had a memorable cup of coffee this season but isn’t likely to parlay the impressive debut into a full-time gig anytime soon. That said, the 32-year-old could find himself on the 10-day radar for depth-hungry teams late next season. That’s an improvement over a seemingly symbolic late-season addition in 2018.

Brook Lopez, C, 30 (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $63MM deal in 2015
Lopez has done an admirable job developing a three-point shot late in his career and that will likely help him prolong it, but don’t expect him to land another featured role like he had with the Nets anytime soon either. Lopez is on the wrong side of 30 and has never been a particularly feared rim protector. Expect the veteran to contribute meaningful minutes to a contender at a drastically reduced rate; playoff-bound teams don’t have the cap space and the rest shouldn’t even be looking.

Julius Randle, C, 23 (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $14MM deal in 2014
Watching the Lakers mishandle Randle over the course of the past two seasons would have been outright inexcusable if they didn’t have a legitimate chance of landing a premier free agent or two this summer. They do, so we’ll let them off the hook, but if any other franchise were to drag an absolute workhorse through the mud for two seasons just because they wanted to keep their options open for free agency, we’d be laughing at them. Randle, a restricted free agent, is going to get paid this offseason and he should, my only hope – for the sake of the young man’s dignity – is that it comes from an organization that hasn’t made it abundantly clear that he’s a third or fourth priority. Fun prediction: Randle makes an All-Star team before any of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram or Kyle Kuzma.

Isaiah Thomas, PG, 29 (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $27MM deal in 2014
For a fleeting moment in time, the stars aligned such that Thomas – an undersized, volume-shooting journeyman – was an honest-to-goodness MVP candidate. That, however, doesn’t mean that Thomas is or ever was a max player. While the drop in Thomas’ value here in 2018 can be lazily chalked up to his hip injury and the fact that he’ll be 30 years old by the end of next season, it wouldn’t have even felt right this time last season for a team to commit north of $25MM to a ball-dominant guard with a Napolean Complex. I can see Thomas as a world-class reserve combo guard if his hip holds up into the second-half of his career, I’m just not confident that he would share my vision.

Travis Wear, SF, 27 (Down) – Signed to a one-year deal in 2018
The Lakers brought Wear aboard as a last-season depth add and while he may not break camp with the team next season, he may have shown enough during his brief stint with the franchise to warrant a call-up earlier in the season next year. The Lakers may not have much of an interest in investing substantially in the forward but he’s a familiar face that could end up back in purple and gold eventually.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pacific Rumors: Randle, Bradley, Looney, Kokoskov

Lakers power forward Julius Randle could wind up in his hometown of Dallas next season, Frank Urbina of Hoops Hype speculates. Randle would be a nice fit alongside guard Dennis Smith Jr. and the Mavericks have plenty of cap space to sign him. He played very well against them this season, averaging 21.8 PPG, 11.5 RPG and 5.6 APG on 66% shooting, Urbina notes. Randle would also slot in well with the Suns and Pacers, Urbina adds, though it’s more likely he winds up staying with the Lakers. Randle will be a restricted free agent if, as expected, the Lakers extend a $5.564MM qualifying offer by the June 29th deadline.

Also around the Pacific Division:

  • Clippers shooting guard Avery Bradley could wind up with the Sixers if Philadelphia loses J.J. Redick in free agency, Urbina writes in a separate piece. Bradley’s spot-up shooting and man-to-man defense would make him a good fit with their young core, Urbina continues. The Spurs and Thunder, who were involved in trade rumors for Bradley this winter, could be potential landing spots. The Pelicans might also be interested in upgrading the shooting guard spot, which would allow them to move Jrue Holiday back to the point if they lose free agent Rajon Rondo, Urbina adds.
  • Big man Kevon Looney has emerged as a key player for the Warriors and that won’t change throughout the postseason, according to Dieter Kurtenbach of the San Jose Mercury News. The Warriors’ first-round pick in 2015 has battled injuries during his first two seasons. Now healthy, Looney gives the Warriors another quality defender with length who guard all five positions, Kurtenbach adds. Looney could be plying his trade somewhere else next season, as he’ll be an unrestricted free agent this summer. The Warriors declined their team option on him last October.
  • Igor Kokoskov has Jared Dudley‘s endorsement as the Suns search for a new head coach, Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic reports. Kokoskov, 46, was instrumental in drawing up plays when Lindsey Hunter was Phoenix’s interim coach in 2013, according to Dudley. Kokoskov, who has interviewed for the Suns job, is currently a Jazz assistant. “It’s not like Igor is young,” Dudley said. “He’s had plenty of experience. It’s like Brett Brown in Philadelphia and Mike Budenholzer in Atlanta. They put the right staff around them. That’s the critical part. I think he’s shown he deserves the opportunity.”

Mavericks Notes: Matthews, Randle, Carlisle, Draft Pick

Wesley Matthews expects to get full medical clearance when he undergoes an MRI tomorrow, relays Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. Matthews is recovering from a stress fracture in his right fibula that forced him to miss the final 16 games of the season. Except for a torn Achilles in 2014/15, this is the only time Matthews has missed an extended stretch because of injury.

“By the end of the week, I should be good to go,” he said.

Matthews has to decide soon whether to exercise an $18.6MM player option for next season. He offered a clue today when asked about participating in community events over the summer, saying, “Yeah, I mean, I’m going to be here, so I’d love to.” 

There’s more today out of Dallas:

  • The Mavericks should aggressively target Lakers forward Julius Randle in free agency, writes NBC5’s Newy Scruggs in The Dallas Morning News. Randle, who grew up in Texas, is coming off his best NBA season, averaging 16.1 points and 8.0 rebounds in 82 games. Dallas will have at least $20MM in cap room, and possibly much more depending on what happens with Matthews and several non-guaranteed contracts. Randle is a restricted free agent, but the Lakers will be seeking bigger names, so he could be available if the Mavericks strike quickly.
  • Expect Rick Carlisle to remain the coach in Dallas for at least another three to four seasons, Scruggs adds in the same piece. Many Mavericks fans have turned on Carlisle as the losses piled up, Scruggs notes, but GMs still consider him one of the best coaches in the league.
  • Don’t bet on the Mavericks trading their first-round pick, Sefko states in a separate story. Dallas goes into next month’s lottery with the third-best odds at the No. 1 choice after winning a tiebreaker with Atlanta. The Mavs seem committed to taking their time in rebuilding, Sefko adds, and are seeking another cornerstone player to go with last year’s top pick, Dennis Smith Jr.

Lakers Rumors: Free Agency, KCP, Frye, Lopez, Walton

The Lakers’ long-awaited 2018 offseason is now underway, but after months of speculation about which top free agents the team will land this summer, president Magic Johnson and GM Rob Pelinka are working to keep expectations in check.

Speaking today to reporters, including Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com, the Lakers’ top execs made it clear that they plan to be flexible when it comes to free agency. In the view of Johnson and Pelinka, the team could just as easily end up making a splash in 2019 as in 2018.

As Youngmisuk details, Johnson said the Lakers won’t “give away money” this offseason just to say they signed someone, which is perhaps a veiled reference to the team’s infamous summer of ’16. Pelinka, meanwhile, stressed that the summer of ’18 “is not a litmus test” for the front office’s ultimate success — if L.A. comes away empty-handed this July but maintains flexibility for 2019, management wouldn’t view that as a disaster.

Here’s much more on the Lakers:

  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, an unrestricted free agent this summer, says he’s looking for a long-term deal in order to establish some stability for his family, writes Bill Oram of The Orange County Register. Within the same piece, UFA-to-be Channing Frye says he’d be interested in re-signing with the Lakers. “I want to allow them to make the right decisions with bigger-name guys,” Frye said. “I’€™m a pretty dang good backup, emergency, break-the-glass type guy.”
  • Brook Lopez, yet another UFA, isn’t sure whether he’ll be back with the Lakers, but endorsed the franchise for other free agents, per Rodrigo Azurmendi of Lakers.com. “It’€™s a great place to be going forward, not just for myself, but for a free agent looking to sign somewhere,” Lopez said.
  • As Lonzo Ball prepares for a summer that Johnson and Pelinka told him would be the biggest of his life (link via ESPN.com), insiders around the NBA are marveling at the Lakers’ 2017 draft class, which looks like a potential all-timer, writes Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. In addition to Ball, the Lakers also nabbed Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart – who both look like steals – late in the first round.
  • Although there was some speculation during the season about his job security, Luke Walton appears very safe as the Lakers’ head coach. Johnson said today that he and Pelinka “look forward to working with Luke for many years to come” (Twitter link via Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times).
  • For his part, Walton would love to keep working with restricted free agent Julius Randle (Twitter link via Oram). “I think it’€™s obvious that, yes, I would love to have Julius back next year,” Walton said today after raving about the big man’s play. “There’€™s other factors … but from a coaching standpoint I would love to have Julius back.”

Pacific Notes: Bogdanovic, Harrell, Randle, Giles

Kings guard Bogdan Bogdanovic admits that playing for a lottery-bound team has worn him out mentally, as he told Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee“It’s more mental because we’re out of the playoffs and these games don’t give you the same feedback at the end of the game,” Bogdanovic said. The Serbian is averaging 11.9 PPG and 3.3 APG in 27.9 MPG during his first NBA season.

In other news around the Pacific Division:

  • Montrezl Harrell has proven to be much better than a typical throw-in to a blockbuster deal, Elliott Teaford of the Orange County Register notes. The Clippers power forward is averaging 10.9 PPG on 64.4% shooting after getting tossed into the Chris Paul trade with the Rockets last offseason. “He’s been terrific. That was a find for us,” coach Doc Rivers said. “He just does more things than we knew. He’s a scoring post guy. We thought he was just an energy guy.” Harrell is also a contract bargain, as the team can make him a restricted free agent with a $1.84MM qualifying offer.
  • Entering the summer as a restricted free agent, Lakers forward Julius Randle has displayed some durability this season, as Bill Oram of the Orange County Register points out. Randle is the only Laker on pace to play in every game. “That’s a goal of mine,” Randle said. “I want to be out there competing with them every night, and as long as Coach (Luke Walton) lets me go, I’m going to be fine. I’m going to be out there.”
  • Kings rookie big man Harry Giles is eager to prove himself in summer-league play, Jones reports in a separate story. Giles has yet to make his NBA debut, as he spent the season recovering and rehabbing from multiple knee injuries. “I can understand having a guy coming off injury, that’s a rookie that hasn’t played, so I understand ‘Why are they hyping him?'” Giles said. “But … I’m ready to go. It’s not about the hype, it’s not about the media, it’s about me getting on the court and playing ball in Vegas. That’s my main goal, I don’t even think about anything else.”

RFA Rumors: Parker, Gordon, Exum, Smart, Randle

Only about a quarter of the NBA’s teams are expected to have meaningful cap room this summer, so restricted free agents hoping for a major payday could have a tough summer, writes Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. Last week, we identified eight RFAs we believe have positioned themselves well for long-term contracts, and while we’re still bullish on those players, the RFA market may not be as active overall as it has been in some previous offseasons.

Within his latest piece, Kyler took a closer look at a few specific 2018 restricted free agents, so let’s round up some highlights from his breakdown…

  • Most NBA insiders believe the Bucks will ultimately retain Jabari Parker, according to Kyler, who suggests that – with a new arena on the way – Bucks ownership may not be as worried about the rising cost of team salary as you’d expect.
  • The Bucks and Magic may let the market drive the respective prices on Parker and Aaron Gordon, according to Kyler. With Orlando’s new management group looking to shed cap dollars, the team will be wary of overpaying Gordon. Kyler also notes that the Magic could be open to the possibility of a sign-and-trade if Gordon wants to play elsewhere. However, sign-and-trades can be particularly tricky to pull off for RFAs getting big raises due to the Base Year Compensation rule, so that may be a long shot.
  • The prevailing thought on Dante Exum is that he’ll be back with the Jazz, though likely not on a long-term deal, says Kyler.
  • In order to pry Marcus Smart away from the Celtics, it might take an offer sheet at least in the range of $12-14MM per year, per Kyler.
  • The Kings are worth watching as a possible suitor for Lakers big man Julius Randle, though many people expect the Mavericks to be the team “on Randle’s doorstep” when free agency opens on July 1, Kyler writes.
  • Clint Capela (Rockets), Zach LaVine (Bulls), Jusuf Nurkic (Trail Blazers), and Rodney Hood (Cavaliers) are among the RFAs considered more likely than not to stay with their current teams, according to Kyler. For more details on those players – along with an item on Suns guard Elfrid Payton – be sure to check out Kyler’s full piece.

Lakers Notes: Thomas, Randle, LeBron

After missing the first half of the 2017/18 season with a hip injury and struggling to find his groove in Cleveland, Isaiah Thomas has looked better in his last couple weeks with the Lakers, averaging nearly 20 PPG in March. That comes as no surprise to the veteran point guard, who continues to come off the bench most games for L.A., but tells Sam Amick of USA Today that he’s “no sixth man.”

“I won’t be a sixth man (in the future). I just want everybody to know that, like clear as can be,” Thomas said. “I’m a two-time All-Star and a starter who has done things that a lot of people in this league haven’t done (when) given that opportunity.”

Head coach Luke Walton acknowledges that Thomas has probably earned a starting spot based on his career résumé, but tells Amick that the Lakers are “in a unique situation.” With Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. no longer on the roster, the team needed a leader for its second unit, and Walton challenged Thomas to be that leader. For now, Thomas is on board with that plan, though he’s still looking forward to a time when he’s 100% healthy and when he’s given the chance to be the kind of player he was with the Celtics.

“My body’s feeling better. It’s just – it’s going to take time to get back to that level, but also – which I tell people – my opportunity is not the same as it was when I was in Boston,” Thomas said. “Even when I was in Cleveland, it wasn’t the same as it was in Boston, so you can’t expect me to go out and average 30 points when I’m not given that same opportunity. If that opportunity comes back, and when it does – because I know it will – I promise you: I’ll be more than ready to take advantage of that opportunity, and be back on top.”

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Thomas and Julius Randle got into a shouting match on the Lakers’ bench during Wednesday’s loss to Golden State and had to be separated. However, the two players downplayed the incident after the game and Walton suggested that he has no problem with two “passionate” people arguing, as long as they “get it figured out,” according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. Both players will be free agents this summer.
  • While LeBron James has long been considered the Lakers’ top target in 2018 free agency, Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report wonders if James is the right long-term fit for a young Lakers team.
  • As part of a series focusing on lottery-bound teams, David Yapkowitz of Basketball Insiders explains how he would “fix” the Lakers.
  • Earlier today, I identified seven wild cards to take into account when determining how much cap room the Lakers will actually have this offseason.

Julius Randle Hoping To Remain With Lakers Long-Term

Julius Randle was “upset and angry” earlier this season when he didn’t receive an extension offer from the Lakers, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com relays. The franchise wanted to keep its cap sheet clean, even if Randle was willing to give a hometown discount. While the team’s rumored plan to pursue proven superstars this summer initially irked the big man, he’s taking it much better nowadays.

“Oh, man, it came to a certain point where I was just numb to it,” Randle said of the rumors linking stars like LeBron James and Paul George to the Lakers.

The team may have to let Randle walk if they are going to sign both superstars, but the power forward would enjoy sticking around, especially if James decides to join Magic Johnson’s squad.

“It would definitely be interesting because we are building something. We really see our young core developing, so it would definitely be something interesting,” Randle said of the possibility of playing with James. “I played with [Kobe Bryant]. … What you learn from Bean as far as mentality and just the little things, his work ethic, I would love to play with Bron and learn the same things.

[Learning and soaking in] what makes him so great, what does he do that makes him so great and how does he make everybody else so great. He has made a living off of making teammates better. So you have a guy like that, it makes a lot of things easier, I would say.”

Randle, who will be a restricted free agent this summer, is currently playing some of the best basketball in his career. He stuffed the stat sheet on Sunday against the Cavs, posting 36 points, 14 rebounds, seven assists, and two blocks — if the Lakers are simply going to let him walk, it won’t be an easy decision.

“I haven’t talked to a lot of other coaches about him, but what he’s doing right now, he has to be on everyone’s radar,” coach Luke Walton said. “He’s playing unbelievable basketball. He’s a matchup nightmare for teams; he’s versatile. This is just me guessing, but I would imagine most teams are pretty impressed with what he’s doing.”

ESPN’s Bobby Marks (in the same story) pegs Randle’s market value in the $12-14MM-per-year range. While the former No. 7 overall pick will undoubtedly look for a raise on his current salary, which is approximately $4.2MM, it sounds like money won’t be the only factor in his decision-making process this summer.

“It would be tough to say no to L.A., honestly,” Randle said when asked how much he wants to remain a Laker. “It is the place that drafted me. I would love to be here. I have to do what is best for the family and hopefully, they want me here as well.”