/Julius Randle Rumors: Pelicans Free-Agent Forward Interested in Joining Suns

Julius Randle Rumors: Pelicans Free-Agent Forward Interested in Joining Suns

New Orleans Pelicans center Julius Randle (30) during the second half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Thursday, March 28, 2019. The Pelicans won 121-118. (AP Photo/Tyler Kaufman)

Tyler Kaufman/Associated Press

Forward Julius Randle reportedly has interest in joining the Phoenix Suns as a free agent this offseason.

According to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7, the Suns are expected to consider Randle in free agency as well.

Randle signed with the New Orleans Pelicans last offseason and has a player option in his contract for 2019-20. He will likely be inclined to decline the option after enjoying a career year that saw him average 21.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game.

With Anthony Davis missing time due to injury and then having his minutes cut down the stretch after he announced that he would not re-sign with the Pels, Randle developed into New Orleans’ most consistent threat in the paint.

Randle spent the first four seasons of his career with the Los Angeles Lakers after they selected him with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft out of Kentucky.

While Randle showed flashes of brilliance in L.A., such as averaging a double-double in 2015-16 and putting up 16.1 points and 8.0 rebounds per game in 2017-18, he was never deployed as one of the team’s top offensive options.

That changed with the Pels in 2018-19. Even though Randle only started 49 of the 73 games he appeared in, he played a career-high 30.6 minutes per game. Randle was also highly efficient, as he shot 52.4 percent from the field and a career-best 34.4 percent from beyond the arc.

The Suns went just 19-63 this season, and they have not won more than 24 games in a season since 2014-15. They also have not reached the playoffs since 2009-10.

Even so, there is reason for optimism in Phoenix. Guard Devin Booker is one of the best pure scorers in the NBA, center Deandre Ayton was among the league’s top rookies this season, and Kelly Oubre Jr. put up big numbers after the Suns acquired him from the Washington Wizards this season.

Phoenix also owns the No. 6 overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft, which could land it an impact player such as Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver, Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter or Vanderbilt’s Darius Garland.

Aside from point guard, the Suns’ biggest current weakness is power forward, but signing Randle to play alongside Ayton would arguably give Phoenix one of the most talented frontcourts in the entire NBA.