Whether they’re competing or not, the Los Angeles Lakers will always be considered a free agent destination because of the franchise’s rich history and the lure of the City of Angels. While they haven’t actually landed any big names in over 10 years, that hasn’t stopped them from being linked to the biggest names in the league by all the latest NBA free agency rumors throughout the year.
Last season, the Lakers were especially involved in rumor rill, in part because of their own doing. The seemingly never-ending rumors could have a negative effect on a locker room, especially players whose future with the team is uncertain.
However, Julius Randle says that was far from the case with the Lakers’ locker room. In an interview with Adrian Wojnarwoski of ESPN on his podcast “The Woj Pod” on Monday, Randle talked about what it was like hearing free agency rumors throughout the season and how he and his teammates reacted to them.
“I feel like everybody felt like it was funny,” Randle said. “There was like jokes, constantly. Nobody took any report or anything that was coming out and being said seriously. Like we weren’t focused on it.
“I think a part of being a player, you realize really quickly that you only have so much that you can control so you can’t control being in trade talks. You can’t control being in contract negotiations. You can only control that with your play. And everybody honestly just bought into each other, just bought into trying to go out every night and build something, trying to win games and go out and get better.
“Whether it was in the locker room or whatever, we just laughed and had fun. We didn’t really focus too much on what was being said and let it affect the reality of the team. I don’t think anybody took it that seriously.”
Randle saying the Lakers joked about free agency rumors “constantly” all but confirms comments made by Jordan Clarkson after he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers. In March, Clarkson told Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com that the Lakers would talk about LeBron James signing with them in the summer amongst themselves, however, he clarified that the players were the only ones that would talk about it.
A restricted free agent himself, Randle is hoping some team is as enthusiastic about his potential arrival as the Lakers were with James last season. Depending on how things shake out in free agency, Randle could even join forces with James next season, something he said he would “love”.
Regardless of what happens in free agency, it’s clear it’s nothing the Lakers themselves are losing sleep over.