Julius Randle’s season thus far has been a rollercoaster. The Los Angeles Lakers big man came into the year in the best shape of his career but lost his starting spot to Larry Nance, Jr. Despite playing the best basketball of his career and being one of the team’s best players, Randle routinely plays fewer minutes than his frontcourt counterparts, creating a frustrating situation for him.
Randle’s future with the Lakers is in question. The power forward will hit restricted free agency this summer. With the Lakers’ insistence on creating cap space to court superstar free agents, there is a high chance that Randle could be gone at the conclusion of the season.
Of course, there’s also the possibility that he is traded even before then. Randle’s strong play has surely increased his value and whether the Lakers aim to get something valuable in return or use him as a sweetener in a Luol Deng trade (which they reportedly are no longer pursuing), they could have some success moving the 23-year-old.
In fact, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Lakers and Dallas Mavericks have “loosely” spoken about a potential trade swapping Randle and Nerlens Noel but those talks have not gained any traction. Randle is from Dallas.
Noel, much like Randle, is not happy in his own situation, routinely receiving DNP’s in Dallas before suffering his recent thumb injury. The former 76ers big man has previously been linked to the Lakers, mainly through his relationship to LeBron James, through their agent Rich Paul, and the potential for a future partnership.
Noel would be an interesting target for the Lakers. He can be an elite defensive center when he is focused (and getting minutes) and there’s clearly some relationship with LeBron that would make him valuable to the Lakers.
On the other hand, his value is at an all-time low and one must wonder if his lack of minutes is directly correlated to his attitude within the Mavs’ practices and locker room considering his talent level. That’s not to mention that Noel is also a free agent this summer and will be looking for a payday that’s probably within the same range as Randle’s, if not higher.
If the Lakers are intent on moving Randle instead of losing him for nothing, they could get a better haul than Noel.