After agreeing to a deal with LeBron James in July, Lakers president Magic Johnson ignored the suggestions of his coaching staff to bring back Julius Randle and Brook Lopez, Bill Oram of The Athletic reports.
According to Oram, Johnson decided to sign Michael Beasley, JaVale McGee and Lance Stephenson to one-year deals instead of bringing back the big men who were on last season's squad and are currently having career years away from Los Angeles.
Randle, the No. 7 pick by the Lakers in the 2014 draft, is averaging 20.7 points for the Pelicans in his fifth season and first away from the Lakers. In addition to adding some depth and versatility to the frontcourt, Randle also could have been a key trade piece for the Lakers, who spent much of this season wrapped up in rumors about a potential deal for Randle's New Orleans teammate Anthony Davis.
Lopez arrived in Los Angeles prior to the 2017-18 season as part of the deal that sent 2015 No. 2 pick D'Angelo Russell to Brooklyn. Lopez likely would have been the Lakers' starting center this season if he did return and his shooting would have been a huge boost for the team that is currently second-to-last in the league in three-point percentage. Lopez is shooting a career-best 36.7% from deep and making a career-high 2.4 attempts per game.
At 30-36 and with injuries to Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball, the Lakers appear to be headed for the lottery for the sixth straight season. There is speculation that coach Luke Walton could be fired at the end of the season.
Oram also reports there are some members in the Lakers front office who are still advocating for Walton, who helped the team improve by nine wins in each of his first two seasons. After this season, Walton has one more year left on the deal he signed prior to Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka joining the front office.