"Obviously, he's a little frustrated about the starting thing," Walton said after Thursday's 108-92 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center, according to Southern California News Group's Bill Oram.
"I've explained it's not about whoever being better or playing better, it's about what units play well," Walton added. "And Julius was playing really with that second unit. Larry [Nance Jr.] was playing well with the first unit."
Nance, who only made seven starts last season, saw considerably more playing time than Randle on Thursday night. In 30 minutes, the 2015 first-round pick tallied 14 points (7-of-11 shooting), 12 rebounds and a block.
Randle, on the other hand, mustered nine points (4-of-8 shooting) and six rebounds in a truncated 18-minute stretch off the pine.
"When he stepped on the court for whatever that he wasn't ready to go like he has been for the past week [of practices]," Walton said of Randle. "So I pulled him out to tell him about it. I know he wasn’t happy with me, but that’s my job."
Randle started 133 of his 155 games during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons, so it's easy to see why a player long billed as a franchise cornerstone would be frustrated by Walton's decision.
But in order to validate his status as a blue-chipper who can grow alongside Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and the rest of the Lakers' young core, Randle will have to embrace the opportunity in front of him and prove he can be a spark on both ends of the floor as the Purple and Gold attempt to discover their tactical identity in the months ahead.
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