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The Los Angeles Lakers renounced the free agent rights to Julius Randle in July and the power forward signed a two-year, $18 million deal with the New Orleans Pelicans.
Randle reportedly asked to be renounced by 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. The Lakers signed LeBron James to a four-year deal and also added frontcourt depth by agreeing to a contract with JaVale McGee.
Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis played a big role in recruiting Randle to New Orleans. Randle, however, wanted things to work out in Los Angeles and it took him some time to get over the fact that he wasn’t going to be a Laker anymore.
“What he went through with the Lakers was hard for him. He wanted to play great there. He wanted to be a Laker,” said Kenny Payne, an assistant with the Kentucky Wildcats. “It took a while for him to accept that things just weren’t going to work out and there was nothing he could do about it.”
In 82 games this past season with the Lakers, Randle averaged 16.1 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.6 assists, shooting 55.8 percent from the field and 22.2 percent from three. The second year of his contract with the Pelicans is a player option, so Randle can become an unrestricted free agent again in 2019.
Randle will take over as Davis’ new partner in crime after DeMarcus Cousins’ departure. Randle views New Orleans as the place he wants to be long-term.
“For me, this is not about this season or next,” Randle said at his introductory press conference. “I want this to be home and this to be a long term thing. I feel like this is a group where guys are young and energetic and they can grow together.”