Julius Randle’s career has ascended since leaving the Los Angeles Lakers, but the big man still has his former team on his mind. Randle is a big reason for the Knicks’ likely playoff run this season making his first All-Star appearance in 2021. During an April interview, Randle admitted he still has the Lakers circled on the calendar each season.
“I always circle the Lakers, I always know when we’re playing them,” Randle said in April, per The Athletic’s Joe Vardon. “But as far as back to back against former teams, there was no added juice or motivation for this game. I enjoyed my time thoroughly in this city (New Orleans). I had a lot of fun.”
Randle is averaging 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 5.9 assists this season for the Knicks. The forward signed a three-year, $62.1 million contract with the Knicks in 2019.
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Randle Admitted He Is ‘Always’ Motivated to Play the Lakers
Randle spent his first four NBA seasons (2014 to 2018) with the Lakers before signing with the Pelicans in free agency. The forward recently admitted that he is “always” motivated when he squares off against the Lakers.
“Randle, however, hasn’t forgotten his time in Los Angeles, which started with him as the young savior and ended with him being shooed away to usher in LeBron,” New York Daily News’ Stefan Bondy detailed on April 12th. “Asked ahead of Monday’s game if there’s added motivation facing the Lakers, Randle replied with one word: ‘Always.’”
Randle averaged 16.1 points, eight rebounds and 2.6 assists for the Lakers during the 2017-18 season, his final year in Los Angeles. The big man has since evolved into a go-to player that a team can build around as we are seeing with the Knicks.
“I definitely feel like I proved to myself that I got better,” Randle told the New York Daily News after signing his current deal in 2019. “That’s really what’s encouraging through the whole process, you work extremely hard and prove to yourself that you can get better. You want to make the changes throughout the summer and the season to get better and then you make the changes. That’s more motivation than anything to keep going, like how far can I take this thing?”
Randle Wanted to Leave the Lakers After James Signed in 2018
According to SB Nation’s Ricky O’Donnell, Randle wanted to leave the Lakers as soon as he found out LeBron James signed with the team. It is unclear exactly what motivated Randle to depart, but the big man likely wanted to establish himself as a true NBA star. The Lakers obliged and allowed Randle to hit free agency.
“Randle played 81 games in his second season, but that year was all about Kobe Bryant’s farewell tour,” O’Donnell explained. “He took steps forward as a scorer and rebounder the next two years, but didn’t exactly look like the future star he was promised to be out of high school. 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. He would sign the Pelicans for a season playing in another crowded front court with Anthony Davis. Randle would enjoy the best season of his career in New Orleans, but he was on the move again in the summer.”