Report: Lakers likely to retain Julius Randle if he’s not moved by trade deadline

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Dallas Mavericks
Jan 13, 2018; Dallas, TX, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Julius Randle (30) reacts after scoring during the second half against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Julius Randle’s future with the Los Angeles Lakers has been in question ever since Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka took over the organization’s front office. With their sights on two max free agents, Randle’s time with the Lakers is seemingly at an end as he will be looking for a payday in free agency.

The Lakers have expressed interest in trading Randle, before. Moving the big man would allow them to either receive assets back before losing him for nothing or using him as a sweetener in a move to offload more salary.

Working against the Lakers, however, is Randle’s free agent status which, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks is making other teams hesitant about making a move for the much improved Randle:

“Well, the biggest obstacle is that he’ll be a restricted free agent in the offseason. And talking to teams, they feel that instead of giving up an asset or a first round pick for Randle, they can just go out and sign him.[…] He kind of dictates the trade season.”

That’s not especially surprising news although it is interesting to get a read on how other teams are viewing Randle’s value and availability.

But Marks makes a more intriguing comment about Randle’s future in LA:

“If they keep him, that’s an indication that they’re going to retain him when we get into the summer.”

This is the second time in recent weeks that a report has indicated that the Lakers are not guaranteed to let go of Randle, just yet. This one, however, is more specific, essentially stating that the Lakers are willing to pawn him off for assets (in addition to the cap space his departure would create) but think too highly of him to lose him for nothing in the offseason.

Of course, Randle’s demands for his next contract will be critical to how this will truly play out. He can sign an offer sheet with any team but the Lakers will have the right to match those offers to retain him. Moreover, if he does not sign an offer sheet, the Lakers can go over the cap to re-sign him using his Bird rights.

The trade deadline is about one month away and the Lakers may be gearing up for a busy time in the schedule.

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