Among players expected to be dealt before the deadline is Julius Randle, who has struggled to find consistent playing time under head coach Luke Walton in his fourth season despite playing the best basketball of his career.
Randle could see his time in Los Angeles cut short sooner rather than later, according to the latest report by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. During ESPN’s Full Court Press, airing alongside the Lakers vs. Warriors game on Friday, Wojnarowski said the Lakers spoke to the Dallas Mavericks about a potential Julius Randle for Nerlens Noel swap.
Woj says the Lakers and Mavs had some 'initial talks' about a trade involving Julius Randle and Nerlens Noel but nothing came of it. pic.twitter.com/NITf4PTTQs— Rob Lopez (@r0bato) December 23, 2017
Wojnarowski said that talks fell apart after Noel underwent surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb, but if the two wanted to re-visit that trade, Noel would have to green light it.
Like Randle, Noel has had a hard time staying on the floor this season, and it’s not because of his recent injury. Prior to undergoing surgery, Noel had six healthy DNPs and six games where he played less than 10 minutes.
If the Lakers were truly interested in Noel, they could wait until next summer, when he hits unrestricted free agency. Because of his poor play this season and the lack of cap space around the league, Noel could be a bargain in free agency come next summer.
More than that, it’s hard to imagine the Lakers couldn’t get more for Randle. While his contract also expires at the end this season, he will enter restricted free agency, where the team that trades for him will be able to match any offer in free agency.
While Randle, a Dallas native, would be a fine addition to the Mavericks’ young core, which already features athletic young points guard Dennis Smith Jr., a straight Randle-for-Noel swap would be selling low on Randle.