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Lakers’ Julius Randle frustrated by limited court time in Las Vegas

Lakers forward Julius Randle, right, dunks over Minnesota Timberwolves forward Adreian Payne during an NBA summer league game in Las Vegas on July 10.

Lakers forward Julius Randle, right, dunks over Minnesota Timberwolves forward Adreian Payne during an NBA summer league game in Las Vegas on July 10.

(John Locher / Associated Press)

Lakers forward Julius Randle couldn’t hide his disappointment with the results of his second summer league with the team.

“It’s just frustrating,” he said. “It’s frustrating.”

Answer to the next question in the media scrum?

“It’s frustrating,” Randle mumbled.

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Five times he used the same word, summing up his young NBA career.

On opening night of the 2014-15 regular season, Randle broke his right tibia, knocking him out for the season. After surgery on his leg, he later underwent a procedure to replace a screw in his right foot, addressing an issue dating back to a high school injury.

The Lakers since have worked Randle back very slowly, holding him to five-minute stretches with a cap at 20 minutes per game.

“He understands that it’s a bigger picture than just the summer league,” said Coach Byron Scott, who was on hand to watch his assistant Mark Madsen run the team. “This was to knock off some of the rust and get him back into playing basketball. We didn’t want to play him 35 to 40 minutes a game, and then he takes a step back.”

Randle understands intellectually, but emotionally, that’s a little harder to process.

“It’s just frustrating, it’s been so long,” he said. “I’ve never sat out that long. To get a little taste now, I have to wait a couple of more months.”

Through four games over the past week (the Lakers sat him one game on the second night of a back-to-back), Randle averaged 11.5 points with 4.0 rebounds, while shooting just 39.5% from the floor.

On Wednesday, Randle had his best game, with 17 points in 21 minutes of play, one more minute than his allotted playing quota.

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“I would rate that Julius had a very strong summer league. “I thought Julius was great, but I think he was frustrated,” said Madsen, who used Randle’s key word.

“I think the team was frustrated that, in the sense, right when he was catching his rhythm ... we’d take him out.”

The good news is that Randle, and the rest of the summer-league squad, got through Las Vegas with health.

Randle will spend the rest of the summer trying to ready himself for training camp, preseason and beyond, with the expectation of not having further limits on his playing time.

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“I hope so. I hope so,” he said, straying from his darker mantra.

The Lakers need Randle to be a special player. He believes he can deliver, but needs repetition against competition to get his timing back, after sitting so long on the sidelines in one of the briefest rookie seasons on record.

“It’s just precautionary as part of the progression back,” Madsen said. “We don’t want to suffer another setback.”

Randle gets it, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

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“It’s killing me, man, but I have to keep it all in perspective,” Randle said Wednesday after the loss to the Dallas Mavericks.

Fortunately, the Lakers’ 1-4 record in Las Vegas is inconsequential.

Randle did successfully get back on the court, and at times, he looked like the player who inspired the Lakers to select him with the seventh overall pick in 2014.

Frustrating as that may be, it’s still a win for both Randle and the Lakers.

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Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.


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