Over the years, LeBron James has been a magnet for talent across the NBA. However, that hasn’t been the case for every player. For whatever reason, there are those who don’t want to play with the superstar.
Back when LeBron joined the Los Angeles Lakers, Julius Randle was one of their most promising young players but he was a restricted free agent. Instead of trying to keep him, the Lakers let him move, which was a head-scratching move at the time. After three years, it appears more information has come to light.
According to Ricky O’Donnell of SB Nation, Randle, who is now thriving with the New York Knicks, didn’t want to play with LeBron.
“When LeBron James committed to the Lakers on the first day of free agency in the summer of 2018, Randle asked the franchise to allow him to become an unrestricted free agent,” wrote O’Donnell.
While it seems weird that Randle wouldn’t want the chance to play with one of the greatest basketball players of all-time, it makes a little sense. Once LeBron came to Los Angeles, many started speculating which superstar would join him. No matter who they traded for, the Lakers’ young players would probably get shipped out. Randle likely saw the writing on the walls and moved on.
ALL the latest Los Angeles Lakers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Lakers newsletter here!
Randle Having a Career Season
Randle showed some really good flashes when he was in Los Angeles but he’s hit another level since he left. He joined the Knicks last season and it looks like he’s developed into a star this year. He’s averaging 23.2 points per game and 10.9 rebounds with 5.5 assists, which are all career-highs.
Thanks to his season so far, Randle has received 387,114 All-Star votes, which is the eighth-highest among frontcourt players in the Eastern Conference. Though it feels like he’s been in the NBA for a while now, he’s only 26-years-old and seems to keep getting better and better.
Randle Wants to Stay in New York Long-Term
The Knicks have been desperate for a young star for years now. Randle might not be a superstar quite yet but he’s certainly heading towards star territory. It would be in character for the team to figure out how to lose Randle but it sounds like he’s planning on sticking around.
“I knew where we were starting at,” Randle said, per Sopan Deb of the New York Times. “I knew the challenge I had when I signed here. I signed here with the hopes of being here long term. I want to be one of the guys that’s part of this team and eventually, hopefully, we are competing for championships and winning championships. That’s my dream. A picture perfect thing for me.”
At 14-16, the Knicks are currently the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. If Randle can lead them to the playoffs, his star power is going to get a lot stronger. New York loves basketball and they love the Knicks but they’ve been bad for a long time. Randle is doing a lot to help them get back to the playoffs, which could really help his career.