Julius Randle will finish out the season as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers after the team was unable to move him by Thursday's trade deadline.
For much of the 2017-18 campaign, it seemed like Randle would have a new home by early February. While proposals reportedly rolled in, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski noted the Lakers weren't interested in underwhelming offers centered around second-round picks.
The Lakers have been looking to trim as much payroll as possible in preparation for the summer.
They dealt Timofey Mozgov and D'Angelo Russell in order to get out from under the $48 million owed to Mozgov in the final three years of his contract and shipped Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday for Isaiah Thomas (expiring), Channing Frye (expiring) and a future first-round pick.
Randle is averaging 14.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. Those uninspiring numbers are largely the result of Randle playing just 23.9 minutes a night. According to Basketball Reference, he's putting up 21.3 points, 11.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists per 36 minutes.
The Lakers have had a minus-2.3 net rating with Randle on the floor, but that figure falls to minus-3.0 when he goes to the bench, according to NBA.com.
Despite the obvious progress he has made in 2016-17, Randle's three-point shooting remains a major area of concern. He's making 23.7 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc.
He doesn't even boast much of a mid-range game, as he's connecting on 37.0 percent of his shots from between 10 and 16 feet, per Basketball Reference.
Randle's inability to stretch the floor not only prevents him from fulfilling his potential but could also continue limiting him to a bench role with the Lakers. With the importance of three-point shooting in the NBA, power forwards who can't consistently hit jumpers on the perimeter aren't all that valuable.
Randle is still only 23, so it's premature to rule out the possibility his three-point percentage climbs into the high 30s.
By not trading Randle, the Lakers may envision him as part of their long-term plans—or they want to at least allow themselves an easy opportunity to re-sign him should they strike out with their preferred targets.
Since he's set to be a restricted free agent, Los Angeles can match any offer sheet another team gives Randle. If the Lakers aren't confident they can land Paul George or LeBron James, then retaining Randle may be their contingency plan.
Re-signing Randle wouldn't preclude the Lakers from trading him at a later date, either.
Still, some Lakers fans are bound to question whether the team was better off trading Randle now rather than either re-signing him or watching him leave in free agency and get nothing in return.