Yes, the title of this post feels like it could appear at The Onion. I know. You mean the agent for a free agent wants his client to make a lot of money? I, too, am shocked.
Here’s the thing. We are just now entering into the part of the basketball year when the maneuvering by all the people behind the scenes jumps front and center. Players and/or their agents will start to make news about free agency, the draft, trades they’re seeking, and everything else under the sun regarding players using their agency to impact where they play and for how much.
Some of this will be leaked or based on innuendo — which will require an even greater amount of discernment when analyzing them. But some of it will be told directly to media people who will quote them in stories for mass consumption. Like, well, Aaron Mintz’s comments regarding his client, Julius Randle, to Tania Ganguli of the LA Times.
Mintz, in response to Rob Pelinka stating that “the Lakers’ front office is constantly in touch with Julius Randle’s representatives, and there has been ‘a mutual exchange of interest and hoping that we can work something out for both sides.'” From Ganguli’s report:
“We still have no indication of where Julius stands among the Lakers’ priorities, or if he is a priority at all,” Randle’s agent Aaron Mintz said Saturday in response to Pelinka’s comments. “We are looking forward to the marketplace in July, when we will get a clear picture of Julius’ future.”
Always understand that whether via leak or direct quote, nothing is said without purpose. Further, restricted free agency is often a testy environment, rife with even more of the angling and posturing that can lead to sour feelings between players, their representation, and incumbent organizations.
Combine these two things together and I think it’s easy to see Randle’s agent is (likely) looking to accomplish a few things:
- Re-organize the Lakers priorities to place Randle higher in the pecking order.
- Signal to other teams that Randle is ready to have serious conversations about leaving the Lakers.
- In conjunction with #’s 1 and 2, get Randle the largest contract possible.
And, honestly, good on Mintz. This is his job and as a seasoned agent with some really good NBA players in his client stable, he’s been around the block a few times. Where this leaves the Lakers, though, will be interesting to see. Especially when you consider Mintz also represents Paul George — a player we all know the Lakers are hard after this summer.
Back to Randle and his future with the team, after a breakout season, I’m hopeful he returns and that whatever public (or private) negotiations play out, they end up favorably for both player and team. No matter how firm or contentious they are throughout the full process. On a recent podcast with Adrian Wojnarowski, Randle himself said that he’s not sure if this process will lead to hard feelings — never being in this situation before, Randle said he does not know for sure how he’ll feel — but that he tries to separate the business aspect of the NBA from emotions.
Understand, though, that as we get closer to July there will only be more of these types of reports. And we’re all just going to have to deal with the ups and downs of how this process (and the process of the Lakers pursuit of other FA’s) play out. This, my friends, will not be so fun. So brace yourselves and prepare for it.