After signing LeBron James to a four-year, $154 million deal this summer, the Los Angeles Lakers chose not to offer an extension to restricted free agent Julius Randle.
With their remaining cap space, they instead chose to sign Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee and Michael Beasley to one-year deals.
This will allow the Lakers to have enough money to pursue another marquee free agent in 2019.
With the franchise keen on adding superstars to their roster over the next two years, Randle’s future was always in doubt.
But the 23-year-old was not short on offers after he enjoyed a good season with the purple and gold.
Soon after he was made a free agent, the big man signed a two-year, $18 million deal to join the New Orleans Pelicans.
According to William Guillory of The Athletic, Randle had more lucrative offers but New Orleans was the place that attracted him the most.
“There were more lucrative deals on the table and Randle’s contract will allow him re-enter free agency next summer if he chooses,” Guillory said.
“But make no mistake, he views New Orleans as the place he wants to be long term. That’s one of the main reasons he decided to sign with them.”
The power forward also stated this in his introductory press conference with his new team and said his decision to include a player option doesn’t mean anything.
“For me, this is not about this season or next,” he said. “I want this to be home and this to be a long-term thing.
“I feel like this is a group where guys are young and energetic and they can grow together.”
Partnering with Davis
Another big reason was Anthony Davis, who contacted his fellow Kentucky alum on numerous occasions to convince him to join the Pelicans.
With DeMarcus Cousins signing with the Golden State Warriors, the Pels needed another frontcourt partner for AD and he was keen to get Randle on board.
Last year, he averaged a career-high 16.1 points and 8.0 rebounds per game for the Lakers and was their joint leading scorer. He also shot a career-best 58.8 percent from the field.
The former number seven pick can certainly form a dangerous partnership with Davis as their skills can complement each other.
Both players are comfortable operating inside the paint or stepping out to shoot from mid-range or three-point territory.
The Pelicans showed they can be successful with a big man combo last season and are hoping that formula can bear fruit again for the upcoming campaign.
CLICK HERE to listen to Episode Two of the new GiveMeSport NBA podcast, featuring New York Times senior writer Marc Stein. Subscribe for all future episodes.