The Los Angeles Lakers entered the NBA season with dreams of signing two star free agents this upcoming summer. While that goal remains in place, the means to get there have changed.
The Lakers’ insistence on opening up cap space at one point seemed to indicate that Julius Randle’s time in the purple and gold would be coming to an end sooner rather than later.
But Randle has improved exponentially this season and continues to get better game by game. His play this season led to the Lakers keeping him past the trade deadline, dissatisfied with the offers they received for the upcoming free agent.
Now the Lakers will have to decide whether they will re-sign the big man this summer. Randle is looking at a big pay-day and the few teams that do have cap space this offseason will certainly look at giving the 23-year-old an offer he can’t refuse.
For Randle’s part, however, the Kentucky product is making it clear he wants to re-sign with the Lakers as he told ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk in a look-ahead to the summer:
“It would be tough to say no to L.A., honestly,” Randle said with a chuckle when asked how much he wants to remain a Laker. “It is the place that drafted me. I would love to be here. I have to do what is best for the family and hopefully they want me here as well.”
Randle’s start to the season was rocky as limited playing time soured his stance on the coaches and the organization. But to his credit, Randle has continued to work hard and earned his starting spot back. Luke Walton has trusted him more and it’s paid dividends for the Lakers who have looked like a playoff team since Randle has stepped into the starting lineup.
There’s a lot of time between now and free agency and any offer can change what seems to be a lean into a long-term marriage between the two parties. While it is possible to sign two stars and keep Randle, the semantics of such a move may be difficult to pull off. Nothing is guaranteed but it is a positive sign that both sides seem interested in Randle re-signing in LA.