The Los Angeles Lakers have their eyes set on the summer of 2018 as they look to make a major splash in free agency with the likes of LeBron James, Paul George, and DeMarcus Cousins available in free agency. That, however, causes some issues for players already on the roster, namely Julius Randle.
The fourth-year power forward is eligible for a contract extension this year, but salary cap space is the most important thing for the Lakers. As such, the possibility of a Randle extension always seemed like a long shot and that looks to be exactly the case.
According to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, no extension is expected between the Lakers and Randle before tonight’s deadline:
As expected no extension expected w/ Lakers & Julius Randle today. Team had cordial conversations but everyone understands cap space issue
— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) October 16, 2017
This doesn’t mean that Randle won’t return to the Lakers next year. Randle will become a restricted free agent next summer meaning the Lakers can match any offer Randle receives. If the Lakers are able to land a couple big free agents they could renounce Randle’s rights to free up more cap space or if they fail, or only land one, the team could bring him back.
A lot of this will also be determined by Randle’s play this season. He has been battling Larry Nance Jr. for the starting power forward spot and enjoyed a solid preseason averaging 13.3 points and a team-high 7.5 rebounds. If he can continue to develop the rest of his game he could make it very difficult for the Lakers to just let him walk.
In the end, this will come down to the Lakers’ success, or failure, in free agency. If the team can bring two big names, it seems likely that Randle is gone. They have to keep their options open in the meantime, however, and that means no extension for Randle.