The Los Angeles Lakers have until Feb. 8 to mull over their trade options, but the front office has already been busy forming a market for two of the pieces they’d like to move. Both Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson are aware that the Lakers have already made trade proposals including them, reports Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times.
Ganguli reports the Lakers would “love” to trade Randle if the right opportunity presents itself, and lumped Clarkson into the same outlook. Neither of these outcomes would be surprising, with the Lakers fully focused on creating as much salary cap space as possible for the summer of 2018.
Randle’s future with the franchise was already one of the biggest questions of the season before a single game was played. His looming restricted free agency is something that’s been on the radar for quite some time, and his improved play despite the inconsistent role he’s being asked to fill have only accelerated questions surrounding his future.
Randle is certainly playing himself into expensive territory if the Lakers do intend to keep him, and while the front office may have retaining him as Plan B (or perhaps C, at this point), it’s hard to imagine a situation that works out for both sides based on what we’re seeing now. The emergence of Kyle Kuzma makes it even harder to envision the Lakers paying the big bucks to keep Julius in Los Angeles.
Clarkson is walking a fine line between being a bargain and breaking the budget. He’s due $12.5 million next season, and $13.4 million in the final year of his contract. Jordan’s role on the team feels as clear-cut as it ever has, stepping in as a combo scoring guard to provide dynamite off the bench. He’s averaging a career-best 22.4 points and 4.8 assists per 36 minutes, while shooting 35 percent (also a career-best) from outside. He’s also the only semblance of respectable depth behind Lonzo Ball at the point guard position.
It sounds like Clarkson and Randle are taking the situation in very different ways (via LA Times):
Clarkson is taking a freewheeling approach to this season. He’s having fun, he’s doing his best to listen to the coaches and he’s not worrying too much about the way he portrays himself to reporters.
Randle has more of an intense personality and his approach is showing that. He worked hard to change his body over the summer and it shows in some ways on the court. There have been times when he’s made a big impact in games, just as Clarkson has, but his style doesn’t always fit what the Lakers are seeking. That’s part of why Randle’s minutes tend to yo-yo. He’ll play 30 minutes one night, then eight the next. Last night against the Grizzlies, he only played 11 minutes.They could lose him for nothing during free agency and if that’s an option, the Lakers’ desire for a trade makes sense.
The duo of Clarkson and Randle, who came into the league together, has been one of the consistent identifying pieces on the Lakers over the last four seasons. Trading either of them will certainly be a big moment for the front office, but as we saw with the D’Angelo Russell trade, it’s definitely not something they’ll back away from if they find the right deal.