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New Orleans Pelicans' Julius Randle to enter free agency

By Connor Grott

June 16 (UPI) -- Julius Randle is expected to decline his $9 million player option with the New Orleans Pelicans and will become a free agent this off-season, league sources told The Athletic and the Times-Picayune.

The option was part of the two-year, $18 million contract he signed with the Pelicans last summer after the Los Angeles Lakers renounced his rights to pursue LeBron James and other free agents. Randle is expected to command a higher price tag on the open market.

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In his lone season with New Orleans, the 24-year-old forward averaged a career-best 21.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. He drained 67 3-pointers after only making 37 triples during his first three campaigns, shooting 34.4 percent from deep on 195 attempts last season.

The Lakers selected Randle with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft out of Kentucky. He averaged 16.1 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game in the 2017-18 season.

The expected move comes after the Pelicans agreed to trade All-Star big man Anthony Davis to the Lakers. New Orleans will acquire Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three first-round draft picks, including the Lakers' No. 4 overall selection in this year's NBA Draft, in the deal.

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The Pelicans posted a 33-49 record last season and failed to make the playoffs for the third time in the last four years.

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