Lakers fans are losing faith in their seventh pick from the 2014 NBA Draft. Maybe it is Julius Randle who is losing faith in himself. Either way, the 22-year-old, 6-foot-9 power forward is facing a critical season in his career, a season that could be his last with the Los Angeles Lakers.

The expectations were high for Randle. People spoke of a young man who easily overpowered rivals in the paint and was an unstoppable force in transition. Randle has shown glimpses of his brighter side at times, but that has not been enough. He has also bounced back from a leg injury in his first NBA game that ended his season.

We have been speaking of Randle as one of the brighter spots among the Lakers' promising young core for some time now. But sooner or later, NBA front offices take a bold stand and conclude whether a player's ceiling is lower than they had imagined or not. magic johnson and Rob Pelinka will soon come to their conclusion. Do they see a future with Randle? Can Randle be a very good player in this league?

Financial motive

The Lakers declined to extend Randle's contract before the deadline. That was a major sign. Randle will be a restricted free agent next summer. And we all know by know that next summer will be a big one for Magic Johnson and the Lakers. Can they afford to keep Randle? Maybe not, especially if they intend to bring in more than one star.

The Lakers were able to create valuable cap space this off-season after trading D'Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov. They rid themselves of Mozgov's ridiculous contract, but there is another one left. The Lakers cannot wait to dump Luol Deng's contract. Deng has not been part of the rotation this season, but it will be difficult to find a buyer considering he has three years left on his contract.

Adding Randle in potential deals has emerged as a possibility. This possibility will make even more sense if the Lakers are unwilling to match high contract offers for Randle next summer. They might as well get something out of him right now.

Basketball motive

Randle has lost his starting job. Larry Nance Jr. first earned the starting power forward spot.

He performed at a high level, contributing defense, athleticism, and sacrifice in every minute. Then he went down with an injured hand, and one would have assumed that Randle would have been placed back into the starting lineup. No, rookie Kyle Kuzma was the chosen one, and every minute Kuzma gets is well-deserved. He is the Lakers' best rookie and already a fan favorite. Also, he's a better fit for Luke Walton's system and today's modern game as he can spread the floor. Nance regained his spot once he came back.

In Walton's system, Randle simply makes little sense. Walton wants the floor to be spread and to enable Lonzo Ball to have different passing options around the perimeter. But Randle cannot shoot the three-pointer, nor is he a reliable mid-range jump-shooter.

Thus, he ends up clogging the paint on many occasions and disabling easy baskets for his teammates as a result. It has become difficult for Walton to play him at the power forward position alongside another big like Brook Lopez or Andrew Bogut. Consequently, Walton has had Julius play many minutes at the center position, but at 6-foot-9, Randle can do little against the bigger centers in the league.

Randle's minutes have been cut significantly this season. In the two previous seasons, he had averaged 28 minutes a game. Now, he is barely playing 20 a game. And it does not look like Randle is happy with his role right now, nor does he seem like the type of player that will give maximum effort whether he is starting or coming off the bench.

Some players simply have inflated egos even though they have accomplished nothing yet in the league. Randle will have to fix that.

Randle is in his fourth NBA season, and it was advertised that he had come in in the best shape ever. But, yet another season, Randle seems to be the same player. He is a raging bull that is difficult to stay in front of, and that can finish nicely with his left hand around the rim. However, a raging bull is challenging to control, and Randle has been unable to learn yet to slow down his game and make the right reads on a consistent basis. Consequently, he turns the ball over more than he should or decides to attack in the wrong moments.

If only his defense was elite like Draymond Green's, with whom he has been compared on several occasions, Randle's value would be unquestioned in Lakers Nation.

But like on offense, Randle's focus comes and goes. At times he seems like a monster in the paint and on the boards, and other times he looks like he's daydreaming. By now, Randle should have already shown some signs of consistency. It will not be surprising if the Lakers deal him when/if the right opportunity comes along.