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Julius Randle has murky future with Los Angeles Lakers

Is this the final season of Julius Randle with the Lakers? Could he get dealt at the NBA Trade Deadline?

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Los Angeles Lakers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Julius Randle has had an interesting season for the Lakers thus far into his fourth NBA season after his lone season at Kentucky.

After starting 73 of 74 games last year, he lost his starting spot during the off season and the Lakers did not offer him a new contract before the October 15th deadline. Coming into 2017-2018 there was reason to believe that Randle’s time in Los Angeles might be finished after this season.

As a bench player, Randle has been good for the surprising 8-11 Lakers. Randle has not started a single game for the team and he has put up some good numbers. Randle is currently averaging 12 points per game in a little over 21 minutes per game.

The exciting number is his field goal percentage, Randle is shooting 55% from the field and 58% on two point attempts. He is taking a career high percentage of his shots at the rim and making over 73% of them.

The sudden surge in these numbers could be attributed to Randle getting more minutes as the lone big man in some smaller Laker lineups. Last year, 9 of the 10 most common lineups for Randle included another big man.

This year, Randle’s top 6 lineups in terms of minutes have featured him as the lone big man. It is underestimated what spacing can do for a big man. The idea with Randle was that he needed to add a more reliable outside shot to his game to really take off.

However, Randle as the lone big man is getting the chance to go at opposing centers in the paint and he is feasting. While 12 points per game is not proof of dominance, it is enough of a sample size for the Lakers to take a long look at Randle as their center for the future.

The concern with Randle as the long big man would be defense. Randle has not always given great effort on that end of the court. He seems to be working harder this season and he is averaging almost two blocked shots per game.

Randle is only listed at 6’9, but according to Draft Express, his wingspan is in the 7’0 range. Randle is also strong enough to keep opposing bigs off the glass and he will not be pushed around.

While Randle has played well this season, the Lakers have a huge decision to make this summer. Although Randle will be a free agent this summer, he will be a restricted free agent, meaning that the Lakers can match any offer that he may get in free agency.

The Lakers need to get better and their hope is to get a player like Paul George or Lebron James in free agency to add to their roster. This might mean that Randle will be allowed to leave in free agency.

Randle has had an up and down NBA career. He has had moments of amazing play, but he has also struggled to be consistent. I have loved what I have seen from him this season as a center. He looks like a great big man for a team to have moving forward.

Randle and his representatives are going to hope for a big payday, but the market might not be there for him.

Nerlens Noel has to be a cautionary tale for bigs around the league. Randle’s career has so much potential and any team would be lucky to have him. I am not 100% sure that team will be the Lakers next season and that might not be a bad thing.