After the big names such as LeBron James, Paul George, and DeMarcus Cousins, arguably the most intriguing free agent available this summer is Los Angeles Lakers power forward Julius Randle. Randle is coming off his best season, even finishing fifth in the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award.
The Lakers recently extended a qualifying offer to Randle, making him a restricted free agent. He was long expected to be a target of the Dallas Mavericks, but that recently began to change.
Particularly with DeAndre Jordan opting out of the final year of his contract with the Clippers and becoming the focal point of the Mavs’ plans in free agency.
The Lakers presumably have interest in re-signing Randle, but it’s somewhat contingent on what unfolds with James, George, and a potential Kawhi Leonard trade.
Meanwhile, another team to watch with Randle is the Brooklyn Nets, according to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, even if it’s just to force the Lakers’ hand in matching an offer sheet:
“You’ve got Brooklyn, they might look at a Clint Capela, or they might look at a Julius Randle who’s a restricted free agent. Remember, you offer him a boatload of money, you force the Lakers to match that offer because they don’t want to lose Julius Randle. As a result, that might compromise some of the cap dollars [the Lakers] have. Keep your eyes on that. Clint Capela, Julius Randle when it comes to Brooklyn.”
The thought process makes sense and it wouldn’t be the first time a team has done something like that. The Lakers could go over the salary cap to re-sign back Randle if they had to, but if they had to sign him first, it would wash away their chances of bringing in two max-level free agents.
Of course, Randle would have to agree and sign the contract offer from the Nets, or anywhere else in order for that to happen. Whether he would do so, or wait until the other big dominoes fall first, is anyone’s guess.
Randle and Lakers head coach Luke Walton have both expressed a strong desire that he remain part of the organization. While the Lakers’ young core includes such as Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma, it was Randle who emerged as the team’s most consistent player.
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