For quite some time, the Los Angeles Lakers have been a franchise without a face since the days of Kobe Bryant. Although time will tell on whether Lonzo Ball or Brandon Ingram can emerge as the face of the purple and gold, one player that many are undervaluing is none other than Julius Randle.
After his recent string of hot games after the All-Star weekend, the newest debate involves the hypothetical contract extension of the power forward. Although he is under contract until after the current season, in which he then becomes a restricted free agent, Randle absolutely deserves his share of the Lakers free cap space.
At one point in time, after Randle was selected with the #7 overall pick of the 2014 NBA Draft, it seemed as though the Lakers couldn’t find a way to utilize the forward correctly. The 23-year old is not as lengthy and doesn’t contain a strong three-point arsenal like other forwards might, yet he runs the floor like a guard would.
Averaging a career-high in both points per game and field goal percentage, Randle has proven to be an essential cornerstone of the Lakers starting lineup. With that, how much money do you throw at an NBA player on the rise?
With over $60 million free in cap space for the 2018 summer, the Lakers have the flexibility to offer Randle a reasonable extension. During the 2018-19 season, under his rookie deal, Julius Randle is the 226th-highest paid player in the league.
In order to re-sign Randle, it will likely take anywhere between $10-15 million per year on an annual basis. With that, it would place the Lakers forward into the top twenty when it comes to the highest-paid power forwards in the league. At the present moment, the highest-paid power forward is Paul Millsap, who is making over $30 million per year with the Denver Nuggets.
While Randle is not worth nearly as much to the Lakers, re-signing him could prove to be valuable to outside free agents who are seeking to turn around the slump in Los Angeles. With a core involving Randle, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and a whole lot more, the Lakers have proven that with one star player (i.e. Isaiah Thomas), the results will almost always follow.
Whether it’s with the Lakers or an alternative franchise, Julius Randle is setting himself up with a payday. The NBA is notorious for overpaying young and upcoming stars, and Randle fits that script. How much is he worth? Will he remain a member of the Lakers?