The Los Angeles Lakers are in an interesting situation as fourth-year forward Julius Randle approaches restricted free agency this offseason while playing by far the best basketball of his young career.
Do the Lakers consider trading Randle and seeing what they can get for him while his value is at its highest, or do they continue to let him play out the rest of the season and enter restricted free agency and hope they can fit him into their offseason plans?
It sounds like the Lakers have at least toyed with the latter idea. NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski reported during ESPN’s Full Court Press that the Lakers and Dallas Mavericks discussed a trade featuring Randle and disgruntled big man Nerlens Noel, but talks ultimately fell apart when the latter had surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb:
“One conversation the Lakers did have, some initial talks, about Julius Randle, was with Dallas. He’s from Dallas, and Dallas is a team now that’s trying to accumulate some young assets. Nerlens Noel was a player who they sort of loosely had some conversations about. The Noel injury, though, essentially ended those. Noel would actually have to agree to a trade to L.A.”
Noel was previously rumored to have been eyeing teaming up with LeBron James on the Lakers, and if that’s actually a tangible report and not just their mutual agent trying to build up Noel’s value, then Los Angeles looking to acquire him early certainly couldn’t hurt.
Trading Randle for just cap space would be a tough move to sell if the Lakers don’t end up signing a player like James or Paul George. And it’s unlikely the majority of the fanbase would be happier with Noel, who has never fully lived up to his draft status amid a few injury-plagued seasons and is currently not even in the Mavericks rotation.
Either way, it sounds like these talks are dead in the water, but what they are is at the very least confirmation that the Lakers are considering the idea of moving on from Randle before free agency, even if it’s for a player in a similar contract situation.
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