Julius Randle no stranger to pressure he'll face with Lakers

Los Angeles TimesJune 30, 2014 

The Lakers introduced former Kentucky forward Julius Randle on Monday morning at their practice facility in El Segundo.

"I'm just truly blessed at being with such a great organization, the greatest organization in the NBA," Randle said.

The 6-foot-9 lefty was drafted by the Lakers on Thursday with the seventh overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft. He hopes to make an immediate impact, whether he starts or comes off the bench.

"It's something that you have to earn," he said of starting. "I think that I can come in and contribute right away. It's just all going to depend on my work ethic, my willingness to put the time into the gym. I think the results will show if I do that."

['I want to...put a banner up there,' Young says at Celtics introduction]

He said he won't be fazed by the pressure of playing in Los Angeles.

"(The fans) love the Lakers. They expect nothing less than a championship. It's the same at UK. I think that prepared me for this."

Randle will wear No. 30 with the Lakers, a number he borrowed before his Kentucky career from his mother, Carolyn Kyles, who played at the Texas-Arlington.

"(She said,) 'If you're going to wear it, you've got to do something with it,'" Randall recalled. "Playing for the Lakers, I guess I've [done] something."

He also joked: "I got a little skill from her but I passed her up pretty quick."

[Lakers.com photo gallery from Randle's 1st day with team]

Randle is a long-time Lakers and Kobe Bryant aficionado.

"As a kid, I always grew up a Lakers fan," he said. "I felt humbled to be in the position that I was, to be able to work out for the Lakers. ... It just felt like the right place for me."

He looks forward to playing with Bryant.

"I've been warned," Randle said. "I've been told he can push his teammates."

The bigger question the Lakers are weighing is Randle's foot, which was surgically repaired while he was in high school. The team has to decide if it's worth having the screw removed this summer, before Randle's NBA career begins in earnest.

"I'm not sure yet as far as summer league," Randle said. "My plan is to play, but I don't know."

"I haven't gotten clarity," he continued. "I'm not sure what exactly is the next step."

"Today he took a physical," General Manager Mitch Kupchak said. "For the next two or three days, we're going to continue with the physical process. Based on his performance and his play last year through a full schedule, we don't expect anything different to come up. We'll know more toward the end of the week.

"We're very aware of summer league, which starts here in this building, in terms of practice, next Monday. I believe the first game is the following Friday."

The Lakers also have yet to hire a head coach to replace Mike D'Antoni, who resigned in late April.

"It's not a concern with me," Randle said. "It's such a winning organization, I trust everything they do. I'm not really worried about that. I know it will be the right coach."

■ Kupchak said he was impressed by how all of UK's players — not just Randle — handled adversity and stuck with Coach John Calipari to reach the NCAA finals.

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