Los Angeles Lakers: Julius Randle’s future with the organization is up in the air

(Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images)
(Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images) /

Despite the fact that Julius Randle had a breakout year in 2017-2018, his future with the Los Angeles Lakers is unknown.

Going into the 2017-2018 season, many did not think Los Angeles Lakers forward Julius Randle would finish the year with the team. However, as the year progressed, Randle proved his worth to the organization.

In fact, Randle was oftentimes the team’s best player in 2017-2018. Via his averages of 16.1 points and eight boards a night, it is easy to see how valuable the 23-year-old was. Especially during the second half of the year, Randle became a double-double machine in those two areas.

That kind of consistency started to give the team a picture of what he could do. Knowing what to expect from someone on a regular basis is of monumental importance.

As time went on, too, Randle became a monster on defense. It is key to point this out because this was not always a strong suit of his in the past. In prior seasons, the former Kentucky standout was sometimes coined as lazy on that end of the floor.

However, his impressive physical transformation last summer led to him becoming a more complete player. Randle noticeably had more stamina and used his increased quickness to keep up with the opposition’s guards. It was wonderful to see since his “D” sometimes led to easy fast break buckets.

Perhaps the most noteworthy part of this past year, though, was Randle’s resilience. To start the season, Larry Nance Jr. started at power forward for the Lakers. Initially, Randle was clearly taken back that he was not being given a starting role.

However, Randle used that as fuel to reach new heights. “The Punisher,” as some liked to call him later in the season, eventually claimed a starting spot and kept it. This certainly demonstrates his dedication to the Lakers because he easily could have continued to sulk.

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That being said, it is hard for some to imagine why Julius Randle’s future with the Lakers is undetermined. It pretty much seems like he has done all he can to ensure a spot on the team this fall.

However, the organization is preparing to potentially land two superstars this summer. Of course, doing that and retaining Randle would be extremely challenging. The only way that scenario appears to be possible is if the team finds a suitor for Luol Deng.

Thus, Randle and his client are not sure of what is in store heading into the summer months. According to Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times, this is what Randle’s representative had to say about the matter.

"“We still have no indication of where Julius stands among the Lakers’ priorities, or if he is a priority at all,” Randle’s agent Aaron Mintz said Saturday in response to Pelinka’s comments. “We are looking forward to the marketplace in July, when we will get a clear picture of Julius’ future.”"

The comments from Randle’s agent do not look the most encouraging on paper for Los Angeles. There is a definite sprinkling of confusion in his voice without a doubt as to whether L.A. still wants Randle. The sheer fact that “the marketplace” was alluded to is indicative of that posture.

Despite that, the Lakers seem as though they are more than willing to negotiate with Julius. Rob Pelinka exhibited that a few days back based on what Ganguli reported.

"Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka told The Times on Friday that the Lakers’ front office is constantly in touch with Julius Randle’s representatives, and there has been “a mutual exchange of interest and hoping that we can work something out for both sides.”"

The problem with Pelinka’s comments is their inconsistency. Even if talks have ensued between both parties, it is evident that nothing too substantial has emerged yet.

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This does not paint the purple and gold in the most positive light. Via SB Nation’s Harrison Faigen, Pelinka is arguably being “misleading” in his approach with Randle.

There could be a kernel of truth in that. It could flat out reveal that the 23-year-old is not in the Lakers’ future plans.

At the same time, Los Angeles just may not be sure what to best do. Due to the breakout year that Randle had, the team may be weighing whether to continue to develop their younger core or acquire proven stars.

If the latter is true, that is more understandable. The Lakers do have some difficult decisions upcoming, indeed, and may still be in a deep-thinking mode.

It is important to note that the Lakers will be able to match any offer another team could bestow upon Randle. Therefore, there is no guarantee that Randle’s final game as a Laker has already been played.

Although that is true, the scarier part is that there is no guarantee No. 30 is returning. The status of the Lakers’ front office and Randle is murky at best right now.

Thankfully for the Lakers perhaps, Julius’ appreciation of the squad has not diminished one bit. Via Ganguli, the big man hopes he can come back to the organization.

"“This is the place that drafted me, so obviously I have those ties,” Randle said during his exit interview in April. “I love it here. … It’ll be amazing to be here and hopefully both sides can come to something.”"

At the bare minimum, “The Punisher” would surely be a nice consolation prize if L.A. strikes out with the big fish. He proved he can get the job done on both ends of the hardwood in 2017-2018.

Next: 5 Reasons The Lakers Should Re-Sign Julius Randle

The bulky ballplayer obviously likes representing the city, too. As a result, here’s to hoping that the two sides can become more active in the near future.