Los Angeles Lakers rookie Julius Randle left the Staples Center court Tuesday night with his right leg immobilized by an air cast and a courtside diagnosis of a broken tibia that was later confirmed by Lakers coach Byron Scott. The Lakers announced on Wednesday Randle will miss the entire season after undergoing surgery earlier in the day.
Kobe on what he told Randle after his injury: "I just told him to keep his spirits up." pic.twitter.com/ytne6NraOK— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) October 29, 2014
Randle played 14 minutes in his first NBA game, going 1-for-3 from the field and scoring two points in what became more painful than what it was on paper, a 108-90 loss to the Houston Rockets.
An underwhelming Lakers roster is now without one of its two players that are locked into a contract beyond the 2015-16 season (Nick Young is the other, and he'a sidelined with a thumb injury). More than that, Scott's team is without the seventh overall pick who could give Lakers fans promise in a season where many expect the team to struggle. The injury issues across the board are already piling up.
If Randle misses the remainder of the season, he and Steve Nash will account for 163 games missed because of injury - last year 319— Eric Pincus (@EricPincus) October 29, 2014
The Lakers still have a bit of depth at the power forward position. Carlos Boozer scored 17 points and grabbed seven rebounds as the starter, and Ed Davis came off the bench to score 11 points, grab six rebounds and block two shots. Stretch forward Ryan Kelly is likely close to returning from a hamstring injury that kept him out of the opener.
With Randle indeed out for the season, the Lakers could file for a disabled players exception worth just short of $1.5 million, or half of Randle's rookie salary. Being granted the exception would allow them to sign a free agent or grab a player off waivers worth that amount or less.
Los Angeles could use Randle's ability to space the court and sometimes even initiate the offense. The Lakers could also use this season, one likely without a playoff berth, to develop the 19-year-old power forward.