The Los Angeles Lakers have a dilemma on their hands regarding Julius Randle as the NBA trade deadline rapidly approaches. Do they keep the fourth-year forward who has arguably been their best player this season?
Or should they deal him before the deadline rather than letting him go for nothing in free agency? In a vacuum, keeping Randle would be an easy call for the Lakers, but the NBA doesn’t exist in such a capacity.
The team wants to clear enough salary cap space to land Paul George and LeBron James, or another combination of two superstars who will be free agents this summer, and moving Randle would put them one step closer to having the requisite cap space to do so.
Clearing Randle’s salary doesn’t guarantee those players will come, however, but if the team knows it’s going to go that route, they still might be better off dealing the restricted free agent to be for some type of asset.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, it’s unclear what choice the Lakers will make, but while discussing young players that haven’t been in the happiest marriages with their current teams and could be dealt before the deadline, Wojnarowski said the Lakers were still mulling what to do with Randle:
“Julius Randle, for different reasons, the Lakers are probably not going to invest in him long-term. Does Randle move here at the deadline?”
The Lakers reportedly have gotten offers for Randle, with the New Orleans Pelicans among the teams interested in him, offering Alexis Ajinca and a second-round pick.
Whether the Lakers move forward with a trade like that will say a lot about their mindset the rest of the season. Are they a team committed to compiling as good of a record as possible going into free agency, or are they playing the long game and willing to simply take a pick and no long-term money for Randle?
Time will tell, and the result will tell fans a lot about this front office’s true intentions for the summer.
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