Much of the attention for the Los Angeles Lakers in regards to free agency are focused on potential outside signees. However, there is also a very important free agent already in the fold in forward Julius Randle.
Randle is coming off his best season as a pro in which he made major strides on both ends of the floor.
He will surely command a big contract — be it with the Lakers or elsewhere — but for the time being, the Lakers made sure to be in control of his rights.
According to the Lakers, they have officially extended the qualifying offer to Randle, making him a restricted free agent:
The Los Angeles Lakers have extended a qualifying offer to forward Julius Randle, it was announced today by General Manager Rob Pelinka.
By extending the qualifying offer, Randle becomes a restricted free agent.
Of course, this is very important as it means the Lakers have the opportunity to match any offer that Randle agrees to in free agency. Whether or not they choose to do so will depend on many different factors, but this was the expected and right move.
The Lakers obviously have eyes on big prizes in LeBron James and Paul George. There is a way in which the team could bring both in and retain Randle, but whether the team is able to do that remains to be seen. It will also be interesting to see whether Randle takes his time to wait on those big names to make their decision before agreeing to a deal himself as his market will likely open up afterwards.
Among everything surrounding the Lakers during this free agency period, this Randle story will undoubtedly be one to keep an eye on.
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