The Los Angeles Lakers are the darling of the NBA rumor mill right now. They have been linked to Kawhi Leonard and are rumored to be aggressive in trading for the San Antonio Spurs’ star. Leonard would be the first domino to fall and LeBron James could be following with Paul George still a possibility as well. Right now the NBA offseason seems to center on what the Lakers can do but there is a potential wrench in the works that could derail the Lakers’ hopes this offseason.
Julius Randle was given a qualifying offer from the Lakers making the 23-year-old power forward a restricted free agent. The Lakers will have the right to match any offer to Randle. It is very possible that a team in need of an athletic power forward could make an offer to Randle and put the Lakers between a rock and a hard place. The Brooklyn Nets, if they can free up some space would be an intriguing option for Randle. The Nets have been aggressive in the past with restricted free agents and could be again.
Would the Lakers risk losing Randle? Can they afford to match an offer to him if they believe they are getting Leonard and James or George? These are tough decisions that have to be made out in Los Angeles but if Randle isn’t traded to San Antonio in a deal for Leonard then he could be gone from the Lakers.
There are a hundred thousand different scenarios that could play out this summer. A team in need of a young, athletic power forward could put the heat on the Lakers. Or, Randle could be dealt and sign a long-term deal with his new team. Those are just two possibilities but a team making an offer to Randle could alter the entire landscape of the NBA offseason. The Lakers are hoping to move fast on a Leonard trade but San Antonio has no reason to rush and are believed to be looking for an Eastern Conference team to make a deal with.
The NBA offseason promises to be interesting but the one player that could change everything is Julius Randle and there are a few teams that could try to pry Randle, the 2014 seventh overall selection, away. Here is to hoping a team like the Nets, Indiana Pacers, Dallas Mavericks, or Phoenix Suns makes things a little more interesting.