Lakers’ Julius Randle has thrived while taking life lessons in stride – Orange County Register

LOS ANGELES — With his cell phone pressed to his ear, Rob Pelinka wandered through the office suite at the Lakers’ El Segundo headquarters. Through large bay windows, he could see the team he was trying to improve as it completed its morning shootaround, and they could look up and see him.

Pelinka had already traded Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. to Cleveland on Thursday morning. As Julius Randle finished morning work, he wondered if he could be next.

“I didn’t know,” Randle told the Southern California News Group hours later, after scoring 17 points in a blowout win over Oklahoma City. “The ups and downs of the season and not knowing what’s going to happen, it could have happened to anyone. So I was ready for whatever.”

The Lakers, however, chose to hold on to Randle, the last player on their roster who was coached by Byron Scott and played alongside Kobe Bryant.

Throughout the fall and leading up to the trade deadline, Randle was the Lakers player most often discussed in trade rumors. But as the deadline neared, his game took off, and it became harder to envision the Lakers parting with the resurgent 6-foot-9 power forward.

By trading Nance and Clarkson for the expiring contracts of Isaiah Thomas and Channing Frye and the Cavaliers’ first-round pick, the organization sent a clear message that they want to sign two maximum-contract free agents over the course of the next two offseasons.

The trade also gave the Lakers the flexibility to match any deal for Randle this summer, depending on their ability to lure All-Stars, potentially giving Randle a place in the franchise’s long-term plans.

That was tough to envision back in October.

The franchise chose not to offer Randle a contract extension in October, making him a restricted free agent in July. He started the season on the bench after losing his starting job to Nance.

When Nance broke a bone in his hand in the eighth game of the season, it was rookie Kyle Kuzma who replaced him in the…

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