BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – It worked for Julius Randle, but it always gets bittersweet.
After four seasons of loving life as Laker tend to go up with a career, it came to a devastating end when his rookie contract expired on July 1, 2018 and Jeanie Buss Club waived his rights.
The Lakers might have held Randle and still signed LeBron James, but Lakers President Rob Pelinka wanted for financial flexibility in order to sacrifice Randle, a 2014 Lakers ’lottery pick, to 7th place overall in 2019.
He signed with the Pelicans for a year and is now a kink after a three-year, $ 63 million deal sign. The lack of Randle in the books allowed the Lakers to complete the New Orleans trade for Anthony Davis.
Randle was reportedly "disappointed" with the Lakers' decision. The 25-year-old Randle is just a human, and he expects to be charged when he sees Tuesday in purple and gold. He wants to assert himself, like when he returned to New Orleans last season when he scored 35 points.
"It wasn't the right situation," said Randle in a hotel lobby before Tuesday's game against James and the Lakers. "I wish it had worked out differently? I'm not going into what-if one. It worked out the way it should be. I'm happy where I am. Everything in life happens for a reason. Ups and downs of life happen for a reason. It made me who I am today and I'm extremely happy to be a kink. "
When James signed and the Lakers couldn't get another max player besides James, Randle was believed to be a shoo-in to return. That didn't happen.
"We have been recognizing this offseason going to keep cap flexibility for the month of July 2019 so you can see the way that our list construction is so – unlike LeBron – we haven't kept busy for several years because that flexibility is great for us, ”said Pelinka at the time.
Randle, who averaged 18.6 points, believed that despite the defeat, he improved every season. Maybe James had doubts.
"Am I surprised I wasn't here again?" Asked Randle. "It's a business, brother. I'm not surprised by anything. If the situation was right, I would have been. It wasn't the right situation."
When asked for an explanation, Randle said, “You have to ask Rob Pelinka. This situation is in the past. I don't want to go into why and why not. I had a great experience in New Orleans and now I'm here. And here it is a great experience. It's over with.
Randle had his setbacks in LA, but the Lakers never attacked him. He ended his four years with an average of 13.5 points and 8.9 rebounds. Defense was his biggest mistake after missing his rookie season when he broke his leg at the season opener.
Randle was never booed even when he came back as a pelican.
"The fans here have always been fantastic," said Randle. “I had 35 last year, but the energy was great. The fans never booed or hated me and when I came back they cheered me on. I have a great relationship with the fans and the city. It will always be a special place in my heart. "
Randle spent his offseason in LA last summer and is happy to have his teammates 4 days off to the Pacific where they run the Clippers-Lakers exacta.
"I've spent four years of my career here," said Randle. "To be back in LA and to feel the energy and the old feeling, I go out and play. It's good to get out of the cold a bit and experience a little bit of sunshine."
After a difficult start, Randle has been a lot like the player he was in New Orleans last season – efficient, less sales prone to interim coach Mike Miller.
"They went through ups and downs, adversities and different situations to grow as a person and a player," said Randle. "This is definitely what this season did."
For more information on the Knicks, see the latest episode of the Big Apple Buckets podcast: