If you are one of the handful of people that shed at least a tear when the Los Angeles Lakers let Julius Randle walk in free agency, I regret to inform you this story is not for you. Unless, of course, you enjoy being sad, in which I suggest you seek professional help immediately.
In the latest episode of Lonzo Ball’s Facebook reality TV show “Ball In the Family,” fans got a behind-the-scenes look at Ball’s reaction to Randle signing a two-year deal worth $18 million with the New Orleans Pelicans in free agency.
Here’s the full interaction between Ball and his younger brother, LiAngelo (H/T Lonzo Wire).
Lonzo – Damn. That one hurt a little bit.
LiAngelo – That’s your homie?
Lonzo – (nods)
The Lakers renounced the rights to Randle on July 2, which made him an unrestricted free agent. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Randle asked the Lakers to renounce him after it was made clear to him that his role would be reduced if he returned.
However, that doesn’t mean Randle didn’t want to sign a new deal with the Lakers. In fact, Randle’s former assistant coach at the University of Kentucky, Kenny Payne, told William Guillory of the Athletic that Randle “wanted to be a Laker.”
“What he went through with the Lakers was hard for him. He wanted to play great there. He wanted to be a Laker,” Payne said. “It took a while for him to accept that things just weren’t going to work out and there was nothing he could do about it.”
Randle was arguably the Lakers’ best player last season, putting together the finest season of his professional career despite facing adversity early on, but the front office valued financial flexibility for next summer’s free agency class over signing Randle to a long-term deal. It’s also evident now that the front office saw James as the team’s starting power forward, making Randle expendable.
Still, that doesn’t take away the human factor of basketball. Ball was clearly good friends with Randle, and he’s likely not the only one that will miss the big man’s presence in the locker room next season.
Randle will make his return to STAPLES Center on Dec. 21. Expect the 23-year-old to get a warm reception from the fans he used to call his own. And Lonzo.
Oh no, I’m crying again.
You can follow this author on Twitter at @RadRivas.