Report: Julius Randle, Pelicans Agree to Contract After 4 Seasons with Lakers

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJuly 2, 2018

Los Angeles Lakers forward Julius Randle handles the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets, Friday, Feb. 2, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

Julius Randle's Los Angeles Lakers career is over after four seasons.

On Monday, Randle agreed to a two-year, $18 million deal with the New Orleans Pelicans, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. The contract has a second-year player option.

According to Wojnarowski, Pelicans star Anthony Davis was a "tenacious" recruiter on New Orleans' behalf.

The writing seemed to be on the wall regarding Randle's future with the Lakers once LeBron James agreed to a four-year, $154 million deal with the team.

Randle was set to be a restricted free agent. However, ESPN's Ramona Shelburne reported he asked the Lakers to renounce his contract rights:

Ramona Shelburne @ramonashelburne

According to multiple sources Julius Randle asked to be renounced by the the Lakers once it became clear his role could dramatically change this season and the team wasn’t interested in making a longer term commitment to him.

Randle averaged a career-high 16.1 points and shot a career-best 55.8 percent from the field in 2017-18. He remained a solid rebounder as well, averaging 8.0 boards per game.

The 2014 first-round pick made an impact on defense close to the basket. According to NBA.com, he held opponents to 58.5 percent shooting on attempts inside six feet and 53.6 percent on attempts inside 10 feet.

"I haven't talked to a lot of other coaches about him, but what he's doing right now, he has to be on everyone's radar," Lakers head coach Luke Walton said in March, per ESPN.com's Ohm Youngmisuk. "He's playing unbelievable basketball. He's a matchup nightmare for teams; he's versatile. This is just me guessing, but I would imagine most teams are pretty impressed with what he's doing."

This was the first season where Randle began to approach his ceiling, and he could become an even more effective scorer should he finally develop a three-point shot. He was 10-of-45 from beyond the arc in 2017-18 and is a career 25.7 percent three-point shooter.

If DeMarcus Cousins and Marc Gasol can become consistent threats from the perimeter, there's no reason Randle can't with enough practice.

The short-term length of Randle's contract also helps the Pelicans avoid what can be a risk for players coming off of their rookie deals. Teams generally end up paying for potential, and that potential may never materialize.

The Minnesota Timberwolves gave Andrew Wiggins a max extension last summer with the expectation that he'd take a big step forward in his fourth year. Instead, Wiggins regressed, so the idea of paying him nearly $148 million over the next five years is looking less than ideal for Minnesota.

Randle's contract is a far cry from that. Giving him $9 million annually is more than reasonable for New Orleans, and the second-year player option allows Randle to play himself into a far bigger deal next summer.