A cloud of uncertainty hovering around Julius Randle has finally cleared. He has known for the past five days he will not need surgery to correct a screw in his right foot. His scheduled has also lightened. Randle no longer needs to worry about boarding flights for doctor visits and pre-draft workouts. He can start settling into his new role with the Lakers.
“I knew what the diagnosis was going to be as far as clearing me to play,” Randle said following a practice on Monday at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. “But to finally have it over and have that whirlwind of going to places and having that over with, it’s definitely a relief and I can just play basketball.”
Well, not quite.
Randle cannot play for the Lakers’ Summer League team that starts Friday in Las Vegas until he signs a contract with the team. But the Lakers will hold out on that until they have clarity on whether they can sign Carmelo Anthony and subsequently entice Pau Gasol. With the Lakers already spending $23.5 million on Kobe Bryant and $9.7 million to Steve Nash next season, the Lakers would like to save every dollar.
“We’ll see. It’s out of my hands right now,” Randle said. “I’m ready to play whenever. It’s not really in my hands right now.”
Instead, Randle will channel his efforts on duplicating his aggressive play that ensured a league-leading 24 double doubles last season with the University of Kentucky. He also will try to establish a stronger mid-range game. He jokingly dismissed whether Lakers summer league associate coach Mark Madsen will physically battle him in practice like he did in a pre-draft workout, saying, “I don’t know if he can handle it anymore.”
Yet, Randle downplayed whether he will seek to make a point after admitting he drew motivation from teams passing him up in the NBA draft before the Lakers selected him seventh overall.
“I don’t know if my energy is generated toward proving people wrong,” Randle said. “My energy is generated toward going out there nad trying to win and focusing on getting better and what I can do to help the team win and go from there. I think my ability and work ethic will prove itself and take care of itself.”
Randle also reported that he will not need any preventative treatment on his foot, mindful that he played all 40 games last season with the Wildcats despite a pin being incorrectly inserted into his foot from a previous injury.
“By the grace of God and I didn’t have any pain,” Randle explained. “It never really gave me any trouble last year. Whether it was in practice or in a game, I really don’t know what to say. It caught me by surprise when that stuff came out.”
It also caught Randle by surprise that he was peppered with a slew of baseball-related questions, most related to the Dodgers and Angels. He knew about Dodgers’ star Yasiel Puig, but not pitcher Clayton Kershaw.
“I don’t follow baseball,” Randle said. “I’m sure I will eventually.”
So, too, will Randle step on the court in a Lakers game.