Restricted free agency is such a joke in the NBA. The Los Angeles Lakers have decided not to bet on Julius Randle yet by giving him a contract extension after this season; they'll certainly give Randle a qualifying offer of $5,564,134 proportional to his rookie deal, but Randle would surely command more than triple that in actual free agency.


Think that's an exaggeration? Mavs fans already were expecting to throw a four-year, $80 million-type offer sheet at Randle.

Randle has played better than anyone could have hoped this season. In 2016-17, Randle's third season, he averaged 13.2 points, 8.6 boards, and 3.6 assists. This season, he seems to have taken a step backward, averaging 15.5 points, 7.7 boards, and 2.5 assists.


But as usual, the raw numbers don't come close to telling the full story. 


Randle is getting fewer minutes per game than last season due to a previously crowded frontcourt, but since the trade that sent Larry Nance Jr. to Cleveland, the former Kentucky Wildcat has excelled. 


He's averaged 20 points, 8.7 boards, and four assists since the trade deadline in 32 minutes per game. He's been remarkably efficient, shooting 58 percent from the field and upping his free throw percentage from 70 to 75 percent.


If Randle keeps this up for the rest of the season, the Lakers run the risk of letting a budding superstar walk for absolutely nothing. By playing so well, he's left them no option but to give him a big payday.


They need to suck it up and do the right thing. Otherwise, they'll look like fools.