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Lakers Free Agency: Julius Randle, Lakers discussed extension but no contract on the table

It’s officially a contract year for Randle. Time to run those Jules.

NBA: Nike/Sony Press Conference Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers and Julius Randle had “cordial conversations” regarding a potential contract extension, but there’s no new deal on the way for the former No. 7 pick, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

The Lakers were never going to start digging into their 2018 free agency pockets to re-sign Randle, especially with the safety blanket of being able to make him a restricted free agent to keep them cozy in any worst-case scenario. Still, it’s a key decision with one of the players that came in as the first building block toward the future.

By the looks of things, the “cordial” conversation included the Lakers being upfront about their desire to keep their precious salary space clear with their eyes on bigger prizes. While that’s a totally understandable position from the Lakers, it’s still a bit of a slight to Randle, who’s found himself as a fallback option in the front office’s master plan.

It was always going to come down to this for Randle, especially as he hasn’t established himself as a top-tier player from his draft class. He’s averaged 12.2 points 9.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game through his two “active” seasons, which isn’t quite enough to force the Lakers’ hand early on this.

The other positive? This should keep Julius running through walls in what’s now officially a contract season. That may drive his value across the league up and make him more costly to retain in the summer, but that’s a good problem for the Lakers to have right now, and they still have a few months to explore what a big year from Randle might mean once they draw nearer to the February trade deadline.

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