The New Orleans Pelicans might suddenly have the brightest future of any team in basketball between winning the Zion Williamson lottery and the haul they received in the Anthony Davis trade, but one of their best players might not stick around to see it.
Pelicans big man Julius Randle will decline his $9 million player option and enter unrestricted free agency this offseason, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reports.
Pelicans‘ Julius Randle is not picking up his $9M player option for next season and will enter unrestricted free agency, league sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium. Randle is coming off his best NBA season (21.4 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 34.4 percent from 3-point range on 195 attempts).
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 17, 2019
Given how much Randle produced last season, giving up $9 million shouldn’t be a surprise. The Kentucky product posted a career high in scoring with 21.4 points per game with a 55.5 effective field goal percentage.
Renounced by the Lakers last offseason as the team geared up to land LeBron James, Randle excelled for a team in great need of a frontcourt presence with Davis missing a good chunk of time. He figures to exceed the $9 million promised to him, though it’s worth wondering where that will come from.
Could Julius Randle leave the Pelicans?
Staying with the Pelicans could be an attractive prospect for the 24-year-old Randle, given that the team will still need a solid big man to pair next to Williamson.
After years of middling performance despite having Davis, the Pelicans now have the No. 1 and 4 picks in the draft, an underrated star point guard in Jrue Holiday and a solid group of young players with Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart, as well as a truckload of Lakers picks going forward.
Being in the middle of that could be a fun time for Randle, though we’ll see what his market looks like when free agency opens up. He probably won’t be going back to the Lakers though.
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