Pelicans forward Julius Randle will not pick up his 2019-20 player option, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports. He would have earned $9 million.
The Randle decision comes one day after it was revealed that New Orleans had finally agreed to trade Anthony Davis. On their way to the Pelicans will be several of Randle’s former Lakers teammates.
The 24-year-old had a brilliant year with the Pels last season, stepping up admirably as one of the team’s premier weapons when called upon to shoulder more of the offensive load late in the season. He averaged 21.4 points and 8.7 rebounds per game in 2018-19.
The fact that Randle is choosing not to sign on for another year at $9 million should surprise nobody. The forward has long been an efficient producer but had to prove himself with a new franchise after his role stagnated in Los Angeles.
Whether Randle ends up back in New Orleans or gets a substantial offer from another suitor, of which there will be several, he’s a likely bet to land a significant pay raise.
Since Randle only played one season in New Orleans, the Pelicans won’t have the Bird rights necessary to go over the cap to sign him. They’ll have cap space to potentially make a reunion possible but the club would also have to consider fit.
This new-look Pels team will have plenty of new cogs in its core, primarily projected first-overall pick Zion Williamson whose skill set as a staggeringly nimble runaway train overlaps to some extent with Randle’s.