Julius Randle wanted to leave the Lakers when LeBron James signed in 2018

Instead of wanting to play with LeBron James, Julius Randle wanted to leave the Los Angeles Lakers instead

New York Knicks, Tom Thibodeau, Julius Randle,
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Julius Randle is in his second season with the New York Knicks, who are his third team in seven NBA seasons. He spent his first four seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, which was mostly highlighted (lowlighted) by a broken leg in his first NBA game.

The arrival of Tom Thibodeau as head coach has positively impacted the Knicks, and Randle is the No. 1 example. He’s averaging career-bests in points (23.1), rebounds (11.0) and assists (5.6) per game. Randle is also converting from 3-point range at a career-best 40.6 percent clip thus far. In a nod to the “Thibodeau plays guys too much” crowd, Randle is also second in the NBA in minutes per game (36.7).

Thibodeau has made Randle into the focal point of the Knicks’ offense. He’s top-15 player in touches and passes thrown per game so far, albeit with the exact same usage rate (27.6 percent) as last season.

Julius Randle didn’t want to play with LeBron?

A lot of players, if only in the interest of winning (at least this side of Kyrie Irving) might like to play with LeBron James if they could. But not Randle, according to Ricky O’Donnell of SB Nation.

“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.”

Randle indeed signed with the New Orleans Pelicans that offseason. After averaging a (then) career-high 21.4 points per game, he signed a three-year, $63 million deal with the Knicks (team option for the third year). The Knicks had hoped to get Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, who instead landed together in Brooklyn. The Knicks practically had to spend their money on someone. Along with signing Randle, they created a logjam of power forwards in free agency that offseason (Bobby Portis, Marcus Morris, Taj Gibson). Amid the mess, Randle actually had a decent season (19.5 points and 9.7 rebounds per game).

Randle has finally put everything together this year, just went it seemed he may never show all the talent made him the No. 7 pick in the 2014 draft out of Kentucky. And who would have thought Tom Thibodeau would be the coach to unleash him?