The Los Angeles Lakers are moving full speed ahead with their young core, and Julius Randle is ready to keep up. The second-year power forward has been cleared for full-court five-on-five drills and, barring any setbacks between now and July 10, will make his return to the court with the Lakers' Las Vegas Summer League team, reports Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News.
Randle's progress is right on schedule, giving the No. 7 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft a chance to play competitively again after a long journey back from breaking his leg during the Lakers' season opener. His return, along with the first look at No. 2 pick D'Angelo Russell and his fellow draftees, Jordan Clarkson, Tarik Black and however else the Lakers fill out their Vegas roster makes for an exciting group of young talent.
Julius is still a key player for the Lakers as they rebuild, so much so in fact that reports indicate LA refused to include him in any DeMarcus Cousins trade discussions. Part of the reason the Lakers are so high on him, it seems, is how sharp he's looked while working out at their practice facility. Randle has come in slimmer and is in better condition than when he first made his way to Los Angeles last summer.
One of the reasons Randle struggled to stay on the floor during both Summer League and preseason play was his conditioning wasn't up to par. Julius' workouts were interrupted leading up to the draft as concerns amassed regarding a screw in his surgically-repaired foot. He's since had that screw removed, opting to correct the problem while rehabbing his leg. A fit and fully healthy Julius Randle could mean very exciting things for the purple and gold.
Word out of El Segundo is Randle looks great, and getting a chance to work with him alongside the rest of the Lakers' young talent in Vegas is one of the next steps for Los Angeles, via Medina:
"He looks great," Lakers coach Byron Scott said of Randle, who is believed both to have lost weight and showed more improvement in his jump shooting. "He looks great. His body looks great and getting up and down the floor."
Only three weeks ago, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak downplayed the possibility that Randle could play in Summer League, stressing the higher importance that Randle returns for training camp in late September fully healthy. But with Randle steadily progressing with his training, Kupchak called his participation in Summer League "very important." If all goes according to plan, Randle will join point guards D'Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson, small forwards Anthony Brown and Jabari Brown and power forward Larry Nance Jr. on the Lakers' Summer League team.
Imagining Randle tearing up and down the court with Russell, Clarkson and the rest of the Lakers' Summer League team only adds to the anticipation for the first look at this group. Play begins in Las Vegas on July 10, leaving just two weeks until it all comes together for the first time.