Julius Randle to visit foot specialist
The trip is not an emergency development by any means, merely the Lakers covering their bases and getting Randle's right foot -- which he broke at the beginning of his senior season in high school -- looked at by one of the leading foot doctors in the country.
The Lakers do not believe Randle will require any preemptive surgery on his foot. Randle played all 40 games of Kentucky's season last season and only improved as the season wore on, in the opinion of Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak.
"I think he kind of mirrors the season that Kentucky had," Kupchak said during Randle's introductory press conference Monday. "They went through some tough times and really struggled in the middle of the season ... They didn't lose faith in their coach and their teammates. So, to me, that's a credit to the players. It's obviously a credit to, I believe, their best player in Julius and it's a credit to Coach (John) Calipari down there with the job that they did."
The 6-9, 250-pound forward led the Wildcats all the way to the NCAA championship, averaging 15.0 points on 50 percent shooting and 10.4 rebounds in his freshman season before the Lakers selected him with the No. 7 pick in the draft.
Randle already consulted with two Lakers team doctors as part of the physical process Monday morning. The Lakers expect Porter to clear Randle based on all of the evaluations Randle has undergone so far.
The issue in question is a screw that was placed in Randle's foot to repair the broken fifth metatarsal, located on the outside of his foot. The worst-case scenario would be Randle having to undergo a surgical procedure to remove the old screw and have another screw inserted into his foot correctly. If this were to occur, Kupchak said Randle would miss a maximum of six months, potentially not beginning his rookie campaign until after Christmas.
Randle was far more optimistic, shrugging off any potential surgery when speaking to reporters on a conference call after the draft last week and vowing to be ready to play by training camp in late September, even if he has to have his foot worked on again.
Should Randle be cleared, the Lakers plan to have him play with their summer league in Las Vegas, starting July 11. Other than his health, the other hurdle that could keep Randle from playing in Vegas would be getting him signed to his rookie contract in time. There is a league-wide moratorium on signing new contracts that runs from July 1-10. While the Lakers are counting every available dollar of cap space they have while they pursue free agents during the moratorium, L.A. is not worried about inking Randle to his contract (that will be in the $3 million range for next season) and having that freeze up their books.
"We're not talking about a significant amount of money and cap space," Kupchak said. "At this point, it's not really a factor."
The Lakers released a list of players they invited to practice with the team starting next Monday for a chance to make the summer league squad, potentially alongside Randle.
The most notable invitees included point guard Kendall Marshall, who started 45 games for the Lakers last season, averaging 8.0 points and 8.8 assists, and has a non-guaranteed deal with L.A. for next season worth $915,243; Jordan Clarkson, a combo guard out of Missouri that the Lakers acquired on draft night by paying the Washington Wizards $1.8 million for their No. 46 pick in the second round; Rodrigue Beaubois, a four-year NBA veteran with the Dallas Mavericks who was out of the league last season playing for Spirou Charleroi in Belgium; and DeAndre Kane, a 6-4 shooting guard out of Iowa State who went undrafted after averaging 17.1 points, 6.8 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 1.2 steals per game in his senior season for the Cyclones.
The invitee list is rounded out by guards Anthony Ireland (Loyola-Marymount) and Kevin Murphy (Idaho Stampede of the D-League), forwards Trevor Mbakwe (Virtus RM in Italy), LaQuinton Ross (Ohio State), Roscoe Smith (UNLV) and Renaldo Woolridge (Metalac in Serbia) as well as centers Xavier Gibson (Shinsu BW in Japan) and Jerome Jordan (Granarolo BO in Italy).
The team will be guided by associate head coaches Larry Lewis and Mark Madsen, who were both player development coaches on Mike D'Antoni's staff last season.