While there was plenty of attention given to the saga surrounding Anthony Davis, LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers, Friday’s game also marked a return to Staples Center for Julius Randle.
It was Randle’s first time playing in the arena or against his former teammates since signing with the New Orleans Pelicans in free agency. He went into the summer a restricted free agent but asked the Lakers to renounce their rights.
Immediately upon granting Randle his wish, the bruising forward signed a two-year, $18 million contract with the Pelicans. His deal includes a team option for the 2019-20 season.
Like Davis, Randle received a warm reception during pregame introductions. He then drew more applause during a break in the first quarter as the Lakers played a tribute video to commemorate his four seasons with the team.
“It was a nice gesture, just being able to reflect back on my four years here. It was a good thing,” Randle said of the video. “It was exciting. I’m appreciative.”
Randle scored 21 points and hauled in 8 rebounds in the Pelicans’ loss. He was playing for the first time in nearly one week, having missed Wednesday’s game because of a sprained ankle.
Although there were contentious times while Randle was with the Lakers, particularly with head coach Luke Walton, all parties appear to have moved on and view their time together in a positive light.
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