Do the Lakers have a Julius Randle problem? After one game it appears they might. Randle, the former lottery pick who, along with Jordan Clarkson, is the Lakers’ longest-tenured player, scored nine points off the bench in a 108-92 loss to the Clippers on Thursday at Staples Center. He grabbed six rebounds and blocked a shot in 18 minutes to round out a pedestrian stat line, but not an awful one. What was first apparent, however, in Randle’s body language — a lack of energy on defense, and a general sense that he was disengaged from the Lakers — was later confirmed by coach Luke Walton. “Obviously, he’s a little frustrated about the starting thing,” Walton said. When Larry Nance Jr. jumped Randle on the depth chart to start at power forward, Walton stressed it was not a referendum on Randle’s talent or an indictment of his performance in training camp. “I’ve explained it’s not about whoever being better or playing better,” Walton said, “it’s about what units play well. And Julius was playing really with that second unit, Larry was playing well with the first unit.” On Thursday that didn’t seem to matter. Walton yanked Randle out of his first rotation on the floor and gave him a stern talk on the sideline. “When he stepped on the court for whatever that he wasn’t ready to go,” Walton said, “like he has been for the past week (of practices). So I pulled him out to tell him about it. I know he wasn’t happy with me but that’s my job.” Randle sneaked out of the locker room while Walton addressed the media in a nearby room, continuing a recent trend of escaping after fulfilling only minimal obligations to speak to the press. In a limited interview session Thursday, Randle’s frustration was apparent.
Walton: Randle 'frustrated' over not being a starter for Lakers
L.A. Daily News | Oct 20