Julius Randle will not be back with the Lakers.
As the Lakers continue to reshape their roster around LeBron James — keeping maximum flexibility going forward, although putting together an interesting mix of players that lack shooting — the Lakers made two fast moves Monday afternoon.
First, they renounced the rights to power forward Julius Randle, a story broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Why? To free up the $12.5 million cap hold so they could chase other players and hand out slightly oversized one-year contracts. Which they are doing with Rajon Rondo.
Randle is headed to New Orleans.
The Lakers have turned their focus away from trying to land Kawhi Leonard in a trade — those talks are still ongoing, but the Lakers don’t feel the same pressure to get a deal done fast with LeBron James locked down for four years. Los Angeles can be patient, get the trade they want or add the free agents next summer, and in the meantime see which of their young core fits with that. The goal is to put together a roster than will challenge the Warriors and Rockets.
However, the team the Lakers are assembling for 2018-19 is an odd fit — Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee, and Rajon Rondo are all Lakers next season, which is going to make for a “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” locker room. That’s a roster that lacks enough shooting, although Kentavious Caldwell-Pope helps out there some. The same is true defensively. That said, all those guys are all on one-year deals, the Lakers have maintained flexibility long term.
The Laker experiment this season is going to be fascinating to watch.