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Julius Randle Out for Season After Undergoing Surgery on Broken Leg

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistOctober 29, 2014

AP Images

Julius Randle's rookie season is over after just 14 minutes. The Los Angeles Lakers forward will miss the remainder of the 2014-15 NBA campaign after suffering a broken right tibia in Tuesday night's 108-90 loss to the Houston Rockets, the team announced:

Los Angeles Lakers @Lakers

.@J30_RANDLE had surgery this morning to repair his fractured tibia. He will miss the rest of the 2014-15 season. http://t.co/ceDUMTSHXX

Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times initially reported the news:

Mike Bresnahan @Mike_Bresnahan

Julius Randle underwent surgery this morning and is expected to make a full recovery from his broken leg. He won't return this season.

Randle, 19, underwent surgery Wednesday morning to repair the damage. The Lakers were unable to provide a timetable for Randle's return until after doctors performed the procedure, though ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne reported the team feared a four- to six-month absence.   

The seventh overall pick in June's draft, Randle was injured late in the fourth quarter when his leg buckled on a shot attempt. The game was delayed several minutes as the Lakers training staff attended to him, placing a stabilizing air cast on his leg. Multiple teammates then carried and placed Randle onto a stretcher as others watched on.

Lakers coach Byron Scott had difficulty masking his frustration following the game, per Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com:

It is heartbreaking, because I saw him all summer. I saw the work that he was putting in. I saw the progression that he was making, the steps that he was taking to get better. And his first game, he goes down. I don't think anybody in that locker room is happy about the way we played, but we're even more saddened about the fact that we lost one of our young guys.

Randle, who entered the NBA draft after one season at Kentucky, had two points on 1-of-3 shooting in his limited playing time. He and Ed Davis were consigned to splitting bench duty behind starter Carlos Boozer, who was acquired by the Lakers this offseason.

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While his early deployment seemed curious, the Lakers had big plans for Randle in 2014-15. Heading straight for a second consecutive harrowing campaign, Lakers faithful saw Randle as the beacon of light at the end of the tunnel. The Lakers will send their 2015 first-round pick to the Phoenix Suns if it falls outside the top five, so Randle is arguably their biggest hope to represent the first post-Kobe cornerstone.

Scott, who at times got on his young forward in the preseason, was beginning to come around on the budding star.

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 28: Julius Randle #30 of the Los Angeles Lakers battles for position against the Houston Rockets on October 28, 2014 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

"He's really starting to learn. He's understanding what we need to do on both ends of the floor," Scott told reporters at the end of the preseason. "Still at times I think he gets a little tired and then when he gets tired, he loses focus. From game one of the preseason to this [final] game, he's definitely improved and he's got a bright future."

John Calipari @UKCoachCalipari

Feel absolutely sick for @J30_RANDLE but I know he's going to come back from this better than ever. I'm praying for you, kid. Hang in there.

Even thinking short term, losing Randle is a crippling blow to a roster that can ill afford it. With Kobe Bryant returning from a devastating Achilles injury, Steve Nash lost for the season and a roster of also-rans, Randle's gradual improvement was expected to keep the Lakers in games as the year wore along.

Now, his injury can be chalked up to yet another disappointment in what's shaping up to be a listless 82 games.

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter

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