The Los Angeles Lakers made the decision to rescind their qualifying offer to Julius Randle, thus making the young big man an unrestricted free agent.
Randle quickly came to terms with the New Orleans Pelicans on a two-year deal worth $18 million. The move sent shockwaves across the team’s fan base as Randle was arguably the team’s best player during the 2017-18 NBA season and was also the longest-tenured player on the roster as the former No. 7 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
Randle shared his excitement to join the Pelicans on his Twitter account:
Mannnnnnnnn tooooo excited!! Excited about the future. Let’s get to work! @PelicansNBA
— Julius Randle (@J30_RANDLE) July 3, 2018
The reasoning for Randle’s release was rumored to be a disappointment with his changing role due to the arrival of LeBron James as well as the lack of a long-term commitment from Los Angeles.
Since the James signing, the Lakers have agreed to a flurry of moves, landing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, JaVale McGee, Lance Stephenson, and Rajon Rondo, who was signed using some of the cap space opened up by Randle’s departure.
All of the team’s additions have come via one-year contract, suggesting that they are keeping their cap room free in 2019 in order to make a run at next summer’s free agent market when players like Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, and Kawhi Leonard could be available.
While Randle’s offer with the Pelicans is only for two years, it does include a player option for the second year, which provides him with the flexibility to hit the market again next summer when there is more cap space available. The second-year acts as protection in case things don’t go his way, and that’s something the Lakers were apparently unwilling to offer.
The Pelicans are also able to provide Randle with a starting role alongside Anthony Davis now that DeMarcus Cousins left to join the Golden State Warriors.
Randle averaged 16.1 points and 8.0 rebounds last season, his fourth with the Lakers.
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