Julius Randle

Southwest Notes: Pelicans, Jackson Jr., Metu

The Pelicans added a pair of young building blocks in Julius Randle and Elfrid Payton this summer and the new personnel could lead to an even faster pace of play, William Guillory of The Times-Picayune writes.

The addition of two athletic young players  – Randle is still just 23 years old while Payton is 24 – will serve the Pelicans well. Guillory writes that New Orleans led the league in pace after DeMarcus Cousins went down with an Achilles injury in January.

We want to play fast, we want to defend, we want to get out in transition,” Pelicans general manager Dell Demps said. “The other thing is these two guys are very unselfish players, which would fit great with our group.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

Lakers Rumors: LeBron, Lineup, Ball, Randle

While LeBron James is – of course – a lock to open the season in the Lakers‘ starting lineup, the team isn’t ready to pencil in the rest of its starting five quite yet, general manager Rob Pelinka said today. As Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com (Twitter link) relays, Pelinka told reporters that the other four spots in the Lakers’ lineup will be up for grabs. That includes the point guard position, where Rajon Rondo and Lonzo Ball are expected to engage in open competition.

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

  • Lonzo Ball and his management group are evaluating options for his injured knee, according to Pelinka (Twitter link via Mike Bresnahan of Spectrum SportsNet). None of the options being considered would involve a long-term recovery though, so Pelinka expects the second-year point guard to be “100% available for training camp.”
  • Asked if the Lakers considered signing Julius Randle to a long-term deal this offseason, Pelinka pointed out that the team didn’t give multiple years to anyone except LeBron, tweets Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times. “We did identify going into this offseason to keep cap flexibility going into 2019,” Pelinka said.
  • ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Ohm Youngmisuk pass along some Lakers contract details, with Lowe tweeting that James’ new four-year contract includes a 15% trade kicker, while Youngmisuk writes that Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk‘s 2018/19 salary of $1.5MM is guaranteed, but his second and third years are non-guaranteed. It looks like L.A. gave Mykhailiuk a larger-than-usual first-year salary in exchange for allowing the team to maximize its 2019 flexibility.
  • Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com and Lee Jenkins of SI.com both published excellent, in-depth looks at LeBron’s free agent decision. Each piece is packed with interesting tidbits and is worth checking out in full.

Pelicans Sign Julius Randle

JULY 9: The Pelicans have officially signed Randle, per the NBA’s transactions log. The team’s new deal with Ian Clark has also been finalized, according to the league’s list of official transactions.

JULY 2: The Pelicans have reached an agreement with Lakers free agent forward Julius Randle on a two-year, $18MM contract, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. The second year will be a player option, Wojnarowski adds.

The acquisition of Randle would strongly suggest that the Pelicans are not confident in re-signing DeMarcus Cousins. At the very least, adding Randle would give them some insurance if Cousins signs elsewhere. Not only does New Orleans already have superstar Anthony Davis up front but also Nikola Mirotic, who was acquired from the Bulls and jumped into the starting lineup with Cousins sidelined by a season-ending Achilles injury.

Davis was instrumental in recruiting Randle to New Orleans, according to another Wojnarowski tweet. Randle had his rights renounced by Los Angeles per his request earlier on Monday, making him an unrestricted free agent. The Pelicans ironically lost free agent point guard Rajon Rondo to the Lakers shortly before the news of Randle’s agreement broke.

Randle’s opt-out will give him the opportunity to explore the free agent market once again next summer. Randle, a former seventh overall pick, averaged 16.1 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 2.6 APG, and a .558 FG% in 26.7 minutes per game last season.

The Pelicans, meanwhile, may be poised to replace Cousins with Randle and Rondo with Elfrid Payton, who reached an agreement with the team on Sunday. The terms of the two deals strongly suggest that New Orleans will use its mid-level exception to sign Randle and its bi-annual exception to bring Payton aboard.

A two-year signing using the non-taxpayer mid-level exception would be worth about $17.7MM, which matches up with Randle’s reported $18MM agreement. The bi-annual exception is worth $3.382MM and would accommodate Payton’s reported $2.7MM salary.

Using either exception would hard-cap the Pelicans at $129.82MM for the 2018/19 league year, so while they could go over the cap to re-sign Cousins, their team salary would have to stay below that $129.82MM threshold. Taking into account Randle’s and Payton’s reported agreements, the Pelicans are at approximately $104MM in guaranteed salary for nine players. That total doesn’t include Cousins or non-guaranteed players like Darius Miller ($2.2MM).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pelicans Notes: Cousins, Rondo, Randle, Payton

The Pelicans made a two-year, $40MM offer to DeMarcus Cousins between his Achilles injury in January and the end of the season, Marc Stein of The New York Times states in his latest newsletter. Cousins rejected the offer, and New Orleans’ front office responded by taking it off the table.

Cousins committed to Golden State last night, taking the Warriors’ MLE of $5.3MM for next season. The Lakers had an opportunity to get Cousins for a similar price, Stein adds, but once they passed, it was an easy decision for him to join the Warriors.

The Pelicans hadn’t given up hope of retaining Cousins when free agency began, but the door closed when they signed Julius Randle for $18MM over two years. Stein notes that Anthony Davis played an aggressive role in recruiting Randle to New Orleans.

There’s more Pelicans news to pass along:

  • The trade with the Kings that brought Cousins to New Orleans will be remembered as a mistake, according to Jeff Duncan of The Times-Picayune. The Pelicans gave up two first-round picks in Buddy Hield and a 2017 selection that turned out to be Zach Collins. In exchange, they got just 65 games out of Cousins.
  • Rajon Rondo and Cousins both made shrewd business decisions, Duncan adds in the same story. The Lakers gave Rondo more money than the Pelicans were offering, along with the chance to team up with LeBron James. Cousins found a low-stress environment to rehab his injured Achilles while getting an excellent chance to win a ring. The Pelicans also showed they’re not ready to pay the luxury tax, with Randle and Elfrid Payton providing cheaper alternatives to Cousins and Rondo.
  • The free agent drama in New Orleans could be repeated next summer, writes Scott Kushner of The Advocate. The Pelicans took a little bit of the sting out of losing Cousins and Rondo by agreeing to deals with Randle and Payton. However, Randle can opt out after one season and Payton is only signed for a year. Nikola Mirotic, who fit well alongside Davis after arriving from the Bulls in a midseason trade, will also be a free agent.

Atlantic Notes: Nets, Lin, Sixers, Kanter, Celtics

The Nets had legitimate interest in Julius Randle before he agreed to sign with the Pelicans, sources tell Brian Lewis of The New York Post. With Randle off the board, however, Brooklyn may not look to make a major splash in free agency after reaching deals with Joe Harris and Ed Davis. If the team returns to the free agent market, it will likely be for “under-the-radar types,” according to Lewis, who identifies Davis Bertans as one possible target.

There’s a chance that the Nets could still be active on the trade market as well. While a Monday report suggested the club isn’t actively shopping anyone, including Jeremy Lin, league sources tell Lewis that they’ve heard Lin could be dealt during the offseason. Without a major free agent target in their sights though, the Nets likely won’t be eager to get out from under the point guard’s $12.5MM+ expiring contract to create more spending flexibility.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • The Sixers have removed the cap hold for 2017 first-rounder Anzejs Pasecniks from their 2018/19 cap, according to RealGM’s official transactions log. Philadelphia still holds Pasecniks’ NBA rights, but the move ensure that he won’t sign with the club for the coming season.
  • After opting into the final year of his contract, Enes Kanter said in an interview with MSG Network that he wishes he could’ve signed for longer, but is happy to remain with the Knicks (Twitter link via ESPN’s Ian Begley). It sounds like Kanter wanted to opt out of his deal in order to secure a long-term contract with New York, but the club wasn’t interested in adding long-term money to its books this offseason, preferring to maximize its cap flexibility for 2019.
  • Introduced by the Celtics today after signing a minimum-salary deal with the team, Brad Wanamaker said he has been looking for an opportunity to come to the NBA for the last couple years. “It’s a dream come true to play in the NBA and with a team like Boston,” the EuroLeague standout said, per Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com (Twitter link).
  • Celtics rookie Robert Williams, who slipped to No. 27 in the draft in part due to reported character concerns, hasn’t exactly been making a great impression to start his NBA career. After sleeping through an introductory conference call on the day after the draft, Williams missed his flight to Boston for the start of Summer League practices over the weekend, tweets ESPN’s Chris Forsberg.

Lakers Renounce Julius Randle

5:51pm: Randle asked to be renounced once it became clear his role could dramatically change and the franchise wouldn’t make a long-term commitment to him, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN tweets.

4:19pm: The Lakers have renounced Julius Randle, making him an unrestricted free agent, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). As we detailed earlier today, the move increases the club’s projected cap room to nearly $14MM.

Randle, a former seventh overall pick, enjoyed the best season of his four-year NBA career in 2017/18, averaging 16.1 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 2.6 APG, and a .558 FG% in 26.7 minutes per game. The 23-year-old is now free to sign with any team, though there aren’t a ton of clubs around the league that still have cap room available.

A Monday morning report had indicated that the Lakers were set to meet with Randle’s representatives today, with his camp hoping for a contract offer from the team. That seemed like a viable possibility, since L.A.’s first few moves in free agency seemed to accommodate Randle’s cap hold.

However, it appears the two sides couldn’t find common ground during that meeting, clearing the path for the big man to land elsewhere and for the Lakers to open up cap room.

It seems the Lakers will use a significant chunk of their newly-created space to sign Rajon Rondo. The veteran point guard has reportedly agreed to a one-year, $9MM contract with the club.

Latest On Julius Randle, Lakers

While the Lakers have had a busy start to free agency, they have yet to extend a contract offer to Julius Randle, sources tell Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). That may change soon, however.

According to Charania, Randle’s representatives are expected to speak with the Lakers on Monday, and the big man’s camp is hopeful about receiving an offer from the team. The restricted free agent is excited about LeBron James‘ impending arrival in Los Angeles, Charania adds.

In addition to securing a commitment from James, the Lakers have also agreed to deals with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, JaVale McGee, and Lance Stephenson. As we detailed this morning, the terms of those agreements suggest that the Lakers will retain their cap hold for Randle, which allows the club to go over the cap to re-sign him.

While it’s still possible that the Lakers will renounce Randle or that he’ll sign an offer sheet with another team, it makes sense for the two sides to negotiate directly as long as he remains a restricted free agent to see if they can find common ground. As Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer (Twitter link), it will be interesting to see if Randle is willing to consider a big-money, one-year deal that would allow the Lakers to maximize their 2019 flexibility.

Randle, who ranked eighth on our list of 2018’s top 50 free agents, enjoyed the best season of his four-year NBA career in 2017/18, finishing the year strong after entering the starting lineup in late December. The 23-year-old averaged 18.6 PPG, 3.1 APG, and a .560 FG% in his 49 starts.

Lakers Notes: LeBron, Leonard, Roster, Outlook

While he didn’t play a part in revealing LeBron James‘ new home this time around, Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated has penned another excellent piece on LeBron’s latest decision. According to Jenkins, James initially narrowed down his preferred landing spots to the Lakers, Cavaliers, Sixers, and Rockets, instructing agent Rich Paul to research those organizations and give him feedback when he returned from a June vacation.

While the Rockets became a long shot after James opted out of his previous contract, the four-time MVP planned communications with the Cavaliers and Sixers at the start of free agency. The Lakers were his primary focus though, according to Jenkins, who notes that LeBron spoke to Kobe Bryant on the phone before meeting with Magic Johnson on Saturday night.

As Jenkins details, despite speculation that a second star like Kawhi Leonard or Paul George might be required to lure James to the Lakers, the future Hall-of-Famer had no problem being “the first headliner through the door.” Per Jenkins, LeBron believes that the Lakers have the recruiters, assets, and cap space necessary to build a lasting contender.

Here’s more on the Lakers’ and LeBron’s arrival:

  • Although he was strongly considering the Lakers before sitting down with Johnson on Saturday night, James wanted to meet face-to-face and see if he and the Lakers’ president of basketball operations could “find a trust” before he made a final decision, sources tells Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com (Twitter links). Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times has more details on that Saturday meeting between the former and future Lakers stars.
  • The Lakers‘ status as an iconic franchise and the ability to live full time in Los Angeles with his family were important factors in James’ decision, two people with knowledge of the situation tell Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. Zillgitt also notes that the Sixers worked hard to trade for Leonard as a selling point while recruiting James, but never made serious traction with the Spurs.
  • Kevin O’Connor latest article for The Ringer cites multiple league sources who say that the Lakers‘ offers for Leonard have been “underwhelming.” However, O’Connor acknowledges that could change now that the team has secured a commitment from James. A package that sends Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle (via sign-and-trade), multiple first-round picks, and possibly Josh Hart to the Spurs could work, in the view of O’Connor’s sources.
  • James’ business and basketball worlds will come together in Los Angeles, as Sam Amick of USA Today details in his piece on LeBron’s decision.
  • Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com takes a closer look at how good the Lakers can be with their current roster and how they can become legit title contenders.
  • We examined the Lakers‘ cap situation for 2018/19 earlier today.

Suns Interested In Ariza, Bradley, Randle

The Suns are targeting Rockets forward Trevor Ariza, Clippers guard Avery Bradley and Lakers forward Julius Randle, tweets Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer.

Phoenix will have about $18MM in cap space to work with after waiving Tyler Ulis earlier today. Ariza and Bradley are both unrestricted free agents and would provide a needed boost to the Suns’ defense. Randle is restricted, and the Lakers will have the chance to match any offer sheet he receives.

Ariza, 33, has spent the past four seasons in Houston and was a steady two-way player on a team that won 65 games this year. He averaged 11.7 points during the season and shot 37% from 3-point range.

Bradley, 27, was known as one of the league’s top defensive guards in Boston, but his game took a downturn after trades to the Pistons and then to the Clippers. A sports hernia limited him to just six games in L.A.

Randle is the youngest of the group at 23. After the Lakers decided not to give him an extension, he responded with a 16.1/8.0/2.6 season that has made him a popular free agent target.

New York Notes: Randle, Stauskas, Knicks, Turner

The Nets are among the teams interested in signing Lakers forward Julius Randle to an offer sheet, according to an article on NetsDaily. Brooklyn would like to reunite D’Angelo Russell with Randle, who is a close friend and one of the few Lakers who showed support for Russell when Magic Johnson publicly questioned his leadership abilities. They also share the same agent in Aaron Mintz.

A few things will have to break the Nets’ way for them to have a shot at Randle. The Lakers will have to land both LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard, limiting what they would be willing to spend on their restricted free agent, and the Mavericks, who are also known to covet Randle, would have to use most of their cap room to sign DeAndre Jordan.

Even if those dominoes fall into place, the Nets still have to trim some salary to come up with an offer sheet that starts in the $12MM to $15MM range. The article states that sweeteners such as up-front money and trade bonuses could be included to make it more difficult for the Lakers to match. To create cap room, the author adds, the Nets would have to get Dwight Howard to accept a buyout in the next few days and trade either Jeremy Lin or DeMarre Carroll.

There’s more today out of New York:

  • Even though the Nets decided against a qualifying offer for Nik Stauskas, that doesn’t mean he’ll be in a different uniform next season, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Brooklyn views Stauskas as a lower-cost alternative if Joe Harris leaves in free agency, where he is expected to get a deal three to four times higher than his $1.5MM salary for 2017/18. Mark Bartelstein, who serves as the agent for both players, isn’t sure the decision will come down to one or the other. “We’ll see how things play out over the next two days,” he said. “We’ll be keeping the lines of communication open for the next few days. I know the Nets like Nik a lot. We’ll see how the roster shapes up.”
  • Pacers center Myles Turner could be the Knicks‘ top free agent target next summer, posts Ian Begley on ESPN Now. Turner will be a restricted free agent if he doesn’t sign an extension with Indiana this summer. His family lives in New York, and he and Kristaps Porzingis are friends. Begley lists Terry Rozier and Malcolm Brogdon as other names to watch in 2019.
  • James Dolan has denied rumors that he is thinking about putting the Knicks up for sale, tweets Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Madison Square Garden Company released a statement Friday night saying, “There are no plans to sell the Knicks or the Rangers.”