During the offseason, the Los Angeles Lakers had some notable changes to the roster, which included forward Julius Randle signing a two-year, $18 million deal with the New Orlean Pelicans.
In the weeks that have followed the move, there has been much clarity as to why things didn’t shake out with Randle. During a recent interview with William Guillory of The Athletic, his former Kentucky coach Kenny Payne voiced that it took the 23-year-old awhile to accept the fact that things weren’t going to work out with the Lakers in free agency.
“What he went through with the Lakers was hard for him. He wanted to play great there. He wanted to be a Laker,” said Kenny Payne, an assistant with the Kentucky Wildcats, for whom Randle played before declaring for the NBA. “It took a while for him to accept that things just weren’t going to work out and there was nothing he could do about it.”
Things had begun to look promising at the beginning of the offseason with the team as they extended a $5.5 million qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent. There was initially the expectation that the Lakers would strongly entertain bringing Randle back given his continued development as being one of the key members of their young roster.
However, shortly after that the team decided to rescind the qualifying offer to make him an unrestricted restricted free agent where he quickly signed with the Pelicans to join the frontcourt alongside All-Star forward Anthony Davis. The Lakers also moved quickly after that by inking former All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo to a one-year, $9 million deal.
These comments from Payne make it clear that Randle did have a desire to return to the Lakers, but things didn’t work out on both sides. He is now set to begin the next chapter of his career with New Orleans.
Bob Garcia IV
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