When the trade deadline approaches, NBA teams do one of two things. Some teams, like the Memphis Grizzlies who are clearing the roads for an illustrious tank parade, bench the players they want to trade, hoping to prevent injury and keep their stock high.
See: Tyreke Evans. Not with the team, Evans hasn’t played since January 29th, when he dropped 27 points on the ill-equipped Phoenix Suns.
Other teams, like the Los Angeles Lakers do just the opposite, upping certain players’ minutes to raise their trade value by giving them a platform to showcase their skills.
See: Julius Randle. Randle has started the last 19 games for the Lakers, after coming off the bench for the first 33 matches of the season.
Both styles have their merits. The season before names like Paul George and LeBron James experience total contractual freedom, clearing cap space by trading valuable but expensive players primes teams for the superstar sweepstakes.
With Randle set to make $4 million of his $13.5 million, four-year deal next season, the Lakers are looking to clear house to secure a chance to soiree with one (or more) of the NBA’s biggest names come summertime. As the Lakers seek to move away from the tank-a-thon and closer to their days over .500, here are some possible teams that could make use of Julius Randle.
Reported in early January, the Utah Jazz are looking to move Derrick Favors, a paint-dominate power forward whose expiring $12 million contract would be an apt pickup for the sell now Lakers.
For Utah, a team sent reeling by the disappearance of Gordon Hayward to the Boston Celtics, Randle would have the opportunity to grow in an organization searching for a new identity. Randle’s skill set is stuck in a time warp. He has the ball handling and offense starting abilities of Al Horford and Draymond Green, but doesn’t carry a threat from beyond the arc.
And while 91 percent of his shots come from within 10 feet of the bucket, picking up part-time playmaking duties in Utah could lead to a profitable offensive flow. Randle plays like a truck facing the basket, and his downhill momentum, coupled with his 16.6 points per game since December 29, would provide another scoring option for a depleted Jazz squad.
The biggest detriment to the Washington Wizards playoff hopes is a horrific bench. The Wizards fourth most used lineup (144 minutes this season) is also one of their worst; the tandem of Ian Mahinmi, Jodie Meeks, Kelly Oubre Jr., Tomas Satoransky and Mike Scott have a supreme aversion to putting the ball through the basket, and Randle’s presence could alleviate that.
Mahinmi hasn’t played quality minutes since the 2015-16 season with the Indiana Pacers, while having an atrocious, four-year, $64 million deal (hello, Timofey Mozgov). Though the Lakers would need a third team to take on Mahinmi, Randle’s immediate offensive talents could be an asset in April.
The Wizards are currently fifth in the league in 3-point percentage and 17th elsewhere. Picking up Randle’s 75 percent shooting at the rim could be the boost the Wizards need to secure home court advantage in the East.
Where would you like to see Randle? Let me know @bjtripleot!