Julius Randle averaged 16.1 points and 8.0 rebounds in just 26.7 minutes per contest for the Los Angeles Lakers this past season.
Although he got off to a slow start and was even benched at times, he emerged due to injuries ahead of him on the depth chart and took on a prominent role as the season rolled along.
Due to his versatility on both ends of the floor and his general athleticism for a 6’9”, 250-pounder, the 23-year-old power forward was a name to watch in free agency.
The Lakers originally gave him a qualifying offer, which made Randle a restricted free agent. In doing so, it allowed Los Angeles to match any deal that the talented big man could sign elsewhere.
But, on Monday, the Lakers renounced his rights, which allowed him to become an unrestricted free agent. Perhaps they did so because Randle reportedly expressed his desire to play elsewhere next season after the team signed LeBron James over the weekend. Randle was previously informed that if he returned to the Lakers, his role would be “dramatically different” than it was last season, per ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne.
Shortly after his rights were renounced, Randle found his new home.
From LA to NO
Joining fellow former University of Kentucky Wildcat Anthony Davis, Randle agreed to a two-year, $18 million deal to join the New Orleans Pelicans, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The contract includes a player option for the second year which will allow Randle to opt out and pursue a larger deal next summer if he wants to.
Randle took to Twitter to express his excitement for the new opportunity.
Wojnarowski reported that Anthony Davis had a significant role in Randle’s signing.
Since Randle’s signing completed New Orleans’ frontcourt, it essentially signaled that DeMarcus Cousins didn’t have a place on the Pelicans next season. A short time after, Cousins agreed to a one-year deal with the champion Golden State Warriors in one of the most shocking free agent moves in recent memory.
Randle will look to carve out a substantial role in New Orleans and will likely star alongside Davis, Jrue Holiday and newly-signed point guard Elfrid Payton, assuming that there are no more major roster changes this summer.
Under coach Alvin Gentry, it will be interesting to see if Randle’s game evolves and whether or not he fits in alongside Davis. Regardless, he should be in line for a 30-plus minute role on a nightly basis, which is something that took him nearly four full years to establish in Los Angeles.
If he breaks out, he could be in line for a huge payday next summer.