The Los Angeles Lakers kicked off day one of their exit interviews on Thursday and a wide variety of topic were covered from Julius Randle’s impending free agency to Kyle Kuzma’s pitch to free agents, which involves the women of Los Angeles.
If you didn’t have the time to sit in front of a TV or computer screen for hours at a time, fear not for we have everything you might have missed and then some. Here are the highlights from day one of the Lakers’ exit interviews.
Julius Randle and Brook Lopez aren’t looking to relocate
Before they go out and chase max-level free agents this summer, the Lakers will have to decide what they’re going to with a few free agents of their own, including their starting frontcourt of Julius Randle and Brook Lopez.
Both players have unique skillsets that are sure to get them offers elsewhere this summer, but neither sounded too keen on the idea of relocating in their exit interviews.
“I’ve said before, this is the place that drafted me, so obviously I have ties to this place. I love it here,” Randle said. “Great people, great organization, great front office. Everyone in L.A. has been great so it would be amazing to be here. Hopefully both sides can to something.”
Whether or not Randle is back next season is in the Lakers’ hands, as he will be a restricted free agent. They will be able to match any offer he gets in free agency and barring a two max player scenario, they should strongly consider doing so.
Lopez, on the other hand, can go anywhere he wants as unrestricted free agent, but he too sounds like he’s enjoyed his time in Los Angeles and wouldn’t mind being back next season.
“I love what’s going on here,” Lopez said. “There’s a great foundation, great young guys in place and I think there’s something to be said about continuity as well. When we were healthy we could compete with anyone on any given and had we not had a slew of injuries we would have been a playoff team. I think this is a great place to be going forward, not just for myself but any free agent looking to sign somewhere.”
Coming off a season where averaged a career low in both points per game (13) and field goal percentage (46.5), he won’t sniff anywhere near the $22.6 million he made this last season, but Lopez doesn’t mind taking a pay cut as long as he’s playing for a contender. If everything goes right for the Lakers this summer, that team could be the Lakers.
“I think so,” Lopez said of taking less money to stay in Los Angeles. “Obviously, if that were the situation and it looked like it the team was an absolute contender, that’s definitely hard to pass up.”
Only time will tell where Randle and Lopez fit into the Lakers’ plans, but if one thing’s for certain, it’s that they wouldn’t mind spending a few extra years in Los Angeles. I mean, who wouldn’t?
Lebron James and Paul George who?
If you were expecting the Lakers’ players get on their hands and knees and beg free agents to sign with them this summer, you thought wrong.
The possibility of bringing in a max free agent or two was a popular topic during the players’ exit interviews and contrary belief, it hasn’t been something they’ve spent too much time thinking about.
“I can’t really worry about that,” Lonzo Ball said of free agency. “It’s not my job to bring people in here, my job is to get as good as I can for next year and help the team in any way I can. Sometimes it’s about focusing on me and this summer I’m not really worried about who we bring in.”
The No. 2 pick in the 2017 NBA draft and the unofficial face of the franchise, Ball will be one of the key selling points to free agents this summer, if not the key selling point. While there are some things he might have left on the table his rookie season, Ball said trying to impress others was the last thing on his mind.
“The way I play is to help my team win,” Ball added, “I’m not really worried about who’s not here, I’m worried about the guys that are here and just did what I could to help my team out. Whether it be LeBron, Paul George, whoever: if they liked it, they liked it. If they didn’t, they didn’t. I can’t do anything about it now.”
Fellow rookie Kyle Kuzma, who will also be a draw to free agents, shared a similar sentiment in his exit interview.
“If guys want to come here, they come, but if not we’re not depending on that because we want to be those great players. We want to be those max-level guys so for us, we just think about how we can make the team better,” Kuzma said.
In the event they do end up signing a big name player or two, second-year forward Brandon Ingram said he isn’t worried about his role with the team going forward.
“I think I fit in fine,” Ingram said with a smirk on his face,” Ingram said. “We’ll let them figure it out. We just come in and do our job.”
Ball, Ingram and Kuzma are all under contract with the Lakers until at least 2020. Whether it’s this summer or the following summers, they’ll play a big role in who wants to come and play in Los Angeles. However, until someone is suited up in a Lakers uniform alongside them, they couldn’t care any less.
Kuzma needs to be in front of a mic more
Kyle Kuzma has given us a few amazing tidbits in his rookie season, some of which are NSFW, but are hilarious nonetheless. Thursday was no different as Kuzma had a field day with the mic in his face and audience to cater to. Here are a few of our favorite quotes from his exit interview.
On Los Angeles being an attractive free agent destination:
“Who wouldn’t want to play in L.A.? There’s sunshine, there’s great women here, there’s great basketball. There’s so much you can do here, so why not come here?”
On being the vocal leader:
“I kind of have to be because Lonzo’s 14 and B.I. has said 10 words all year, so for me I’m the most vocal out of everybody so I feel like I can start helping them develop being talkative, being loud and talking about things.”
Hopefully Kuzma won’t lay too low in the offseason so we have something to keep us entertained. Whether it’s him roasting his teammates on social media or a good quote in an interview, Kuzma will never fail to be entertaining.