Julius Randle leaned on Kobe Bryant, Paul George during injury rehab
Julius Randle’s rookie season was over before it really ever began.
Just 14 minutes into the Lakers’ season opener against the Houston Rockets, the seventh pick in the 2014 NBA draft suffered a broken right leg -- and that knocked him out for the year.
On Tuesday, Randle held his exit interviews with Lakers Coach Byron Scott and General Manager Mitch Kupchak.
“Even though I didn’t get to play, it was still a huge learning process,” said Randle of his lost season. “I got a lot out of it. Obviously I wanted to play, but the valuable things I learned this year I wouldn’t give away.”
The former Kentucky forward said he learned “how to be a professional” and “how to carry myself on and off the court.”
Randle underwent two surgeries, one to repair his leg, the other to replace a screw in his right foot that addressed an injury suffered in high school.
Throughout his rehabilitation, Randle was helped by teammate Kobe Bryant and fellow Creative Artists Agency client Paul George.
Bryant “texted me as soon as it happened,” said Randle. “He said he’s there for me. He also said this thing has happened before, not only to him and great players but rookies as well.”
Randle said Bryant checked in with him regularly.
George, a guard-forward with the Indiana Pacers, suffered a similar injury with Team USA in August, recently returning to play with an Indiana team that has hopes of making a playoff run.
“That’s a guy that I’ve talked to a lot. He’s offered encouragement,” said Randle.
The two compared recoveries, with Randle leaning on the veteran for peace of mind through the ups and downs of rehab.
Randle hopes to play with the Lakers’ summer league squad in Las Vegas. He said he’s in better shape than he was when he joined the Lakers, but is still waiting to be cleared by doctors for more activity.
“It’s been great. No soreness, no nothing,” he said. “The plan is to be ready for training camp. Short-term goal is summer league, but we’ve got to work to that.”
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