Like it or not, the Los Angeles Lakers need to start planning a life after LeBron James — even if that life doesn’t begin for a few years.
The best way to start this type of long-term planning is to attract young talent who can contribute to success now while still having enough scope to continue improving later.
Perhaps the reason the Lakers are listed as a team is to have an interest in their former power forward Julius Randle, who is currently divisive within the New York Knicks fan base.
According to a recent Spotify Live recording from NBA insider Marc Stein, the Lakers may be interested in reuniting with their former lottery pick should the stars align for New York to acquire Donovan Mitchell from the Utah Jazz.
Randle spent four seasons in Los Angeles early in his career, averaging 13.5 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game on 49.3% shooting in 238 regular-season games.
If we look back at the 2020-21 NBA season, Randle was one of the breakout players that year as he led the Knicks into the playoffs and dominated throughout the regular season – averaging 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and six assists a night.
Of course, we saw a slight dip in the 6-foot-1 forward’s performance last season, but even then, he gave New York 20.1 points, 9.9 rebounds and 5.1 assists per contest.
If the Lakers find a way to fit Randle into their offensive system, he could certainly pose a real threat to them, while his time in New York has also proven he’s an above-average defender when locked in and committed to the task.
If Los Angeles could convince Anthony Davis to take on a role as the team’s starting center, the big man duo of him and Randle would be a terrifying prospect for opposing teams to try to switch off – especially since both players are capable of knock, fire off perimeter shots, eject the stone, and get to work in the post office.
After signing Jalen Brunson this offseason, the New York Knicks don’t need Russell Westbrook’s services — however, by trading for Randle, New York would remove their salary cap of three additional years of the deal with the Texas native.
Randle’s contract has an average annual value of $29 million per season. So if Westbrook’s contract expires in the summer, the Knicks would have enough wiggle room on their cap roster to continue revamping their roster without having to commit to Randle.
Of course, it’s worth remembering that when the Knicks pointed out his new deal to Randle, they saw him as their primary offensive option going forward, and now that that’s no longer the case, he’s being overpaid for a team considered not to project to contend for a championship in the near future.
That’s where the Lakers come in, as Randle’s skills could certainly help restore their offense while also helping them on what could be a deep playoff run this season and beyond.