Chasson Randle could serve as the answer to deep-in-the-woods basketball trivia. When the Philadelphia 76ers dumped former lottery pick Nerlens Noel and again when the Carmelo Anthony era ended in New York, Randle was the asterisk beneath the trade headlines. He was the guy waived so that the 76ers and Knicks could make room on the roster to pull off those franchise-altering deals, the player hanging on the fringes of the NBA.
Randle has been teasingly close to breaking into the league full time. But when the business of the game slammed doors on his opportunities, Randle regrouped and found success elsewhere — sometimes in places as unglamorous as the G League or as remote as the Czech Republic. Now in Washington Wizards training camp, the 6-foot-2 scoring point guard is searching for the 15th spot on a crowded roster. His past experiences haven’t shaken his faith. They have emboldened him.
“I feel like I belong,” said Randle, an Exhibit 10 player with the G League Capital City Go-Go who would be assigned to the minor league team if he doesn’t make the Wizards roster.
“That’s just the business,” Randle said about being waived multiple times since entering the league in 2016. “You kind of take it as it comes, but that allowed me to see you definitely can’t take any day for granted. You got to definitely appreciate this game and treat it right.”
If NBA teams truly chose players based on character, then the 25-year-old Randle would already be locked into a multiyear deal. He has heard from NBA decision-makers that he has their vote if he decides to run for president. Randle is so beloved in his hometown of Rock Island, Ill., that the local Pee Wee’s Restaurant has a burger named after him.
“Aw, man! It’s amazing,” Randle said, giving a biased review of the sandwich he helped craft. “It’s got some spice to it.”
The compliments from management types and his hometown soul food restaurant notwithstanding, Randle has proved to be a winning player.
He spent four years at Stanford — recruited to the West Coast by Coach Johnny Dawkins, a D.C. native and former NBA player — and finished as the program’s all-time leading scorer with 2,375 points. As a senior, Randle led Stanford to the NIT championship. Though Randle went undrafted in 2015 and couldn’t catch on with the Golden State Warriors after playing with their summer league team, he signed with a team based in the Czech Republic and won the league title there.
By the next season, Randle had another NBA shot in New York, but he caught an elbow while driving to the rim during training camp and sustained a fractured left orbital bone.
“So that was a downer,” Randle said.
That bad break led to the next: He was waived. Last summer, Randle was back with the Knicks but faced a similar fate after the blockbuster trade that sent Anthony to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Knicks needed to absorb two players, and they waived Randle to create space. He returned overseas and once again became a champion with the Real Madrid team that featured 2018 Dallas Mavericks lottery pick Luka Doncic.
The experience gained through a winding career has helped Randle stand out on the Wizards' practice floor.
“Plays hard. He competes. He’s a very cerebral player,” Coach Scott Brooks said. “Just thinks the game. I just like how he approaches.
"He just plays.”
In late August, Randle wasn’t able to go back home as originally planned and launch the “Chasson burger,” complete with jalapenos and barbecue sauce. Following games with the USA World Cup qualifying team, he reported to Washington. Randle understands his latest job audition could turn out like the others, but he carries the same approach that has allowed him to keep bouncing back.
“They do have a lot of depth, especially at the guard position,” Randle said. “For me, it’s just like, come in, play hard, be a great teammate, show what I can do and then make plays for myself and others.”