There hasn’t been much positivity surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers over the last calendar year. A front office in disarray, a dysfunctional coaching search and their most prized possession being left off First Team All-NBA for the first time since 2007 make for a lot of negative headlines. And even when some good fortune is tossed the Lakers way in the form of the no. 4 overall pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, a former executive immediately goes on TV to call out their current general manager.
Despite the perception of the Lakers franchise in 2019, said general manager still believes the the purple and gold are a desirable destination for free agents.
“I think for any of us, we know who we are and ourselves, we know the characteristics and qualities we stand for,” Rob Pelinka told Spectrum Sportsnet. “And we know as a staff and feel very strongly that if people judge and evaluate us for who we are as an organization and the vision and path we have going forward, we feel there’ll be a very, very strong appeal for the great players to come here.
“I think that all we can do is do the work,” Pelinka continued. “And I think if people take a look at where this franchise is, right now, we have a great coach. Again, we have a high draft pick, we have a great young core, maybe one of the best in the league. We have a superstar on our team and an open slot. So I think that people can look at this as an opportunity to come and win a championship possibly next year. And we’ve got to do the work.”
On one hand, there’s some merit to Pelinka’s comments. LeBron James is already in place. They have an open max slot with which to chase another superstar. They are in Los Angeles. Is their young core “great”? That remains to be seen, and some of those players may not end up on the roster if a trade for Anthony Davis ever comes to fruition. But, sure, there’s some young talent milling about. Also, what else is Pelinka supposed to say? It’s his job to sell the franchise as a place people want to come.
On the other hand, given everything swirling around Pelinka and Magic Johnson’s recent comments about him on First Take, Pelinka’s comments can come off as a dismissal based somewhere outside of reality. Perception of an organization can often be reality, and the Lakers were being denied free agent meetings from big names before this trainwreck of a season and offseason even began. I’m not sure the hiring of Frank Vogel adds any intrigue for free agents, either.
This summer will be another referendum on how the league and its players view Los Angeles. Pelinka doesn’t appear to be all that worried.