Julius Randle at Center of L.A. Lakers’ Transition to Life After Kobe Bryant

The Los Angeles Lakers have been careful to temper expectations for Julius Randle. On paper, the rookie out of Kentucky may seem an obvious choice to receive the torch that Kobe Bryant's carried for years, albeit in large part by default. After all, Randle, the No. 7 pick in the 2014 NBA draft, is easily L.A.'s most promising young prospect, which says as much about the rest of the roster as it does about the Dallas native.

Fortunately for the Lakers, they appear to be at least two years away from any concrete transition between Bryant and Randle. Bryant's two-year, $48.5 million extension runs through the end of the 2015-16 season, though he hasn't ruled out playing beyond that.

"Whether I do or not, we'll have to see that two years from now," Bryant said at Lakers media day, via Yahoo Sports' Marc J Spears. "I don't know, but I could [play longer]. Physically, I don't see an end to the tunnel."

Until then, the Lakers' proverbial flame will be Bryant's to carry. As for Randle, he's got his work cut out for him before he's ready to be anointed the Next Great Laker.

"Julius is still 19 years old," general manager Mitch Kupchak said just prior to the opening of training camp, per The Los Angeles Times' Eric Pincus. "You wouldn’t know that by looking at him, because he’s really a well-developed, big, strong, athletic kid. Over the years, I've never looked at a rookie and said, 'Hey, this guy's gonna bring us to the top.' It doesn't do any good to have high expectations."

If nothing else, Randle seems to have a strong grasp of the company line as it pertains to his present and future. "I'm just a 19-year-old kid, making the adjustment to the NBA," he said at media day, via the Los Angeles Times. "When you're coming into the NBA as a rookie, you have to prove yourself. I know that, and that doesn't bother me at all. I don't want anything given to me in the first place."


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