Rob Pelinka seventh in executive of the year voting; LeBron, Davis react

Rob Pelinka
Jul 13, 2019; El Segundo, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka (left) and forward/center Anthony Davis (middle) and head coach Frank Vogel (right) answer questions during a press conference at the UCLA Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

On Thursday, the NBA announced that LA Clippers general manager Lawrence Frank had won the 2020 NBA Executive of the Year award. Frank had, of course, been instrumental in acquiring both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in the off-season. Meanwhile, the Lakers’ Rob Pelinka was voted just seventh despite a blockbuster trade to get Anthony Davis and various other moves that have built a team on the cusp of winning a championship after missing the postseason last year.

Almost immediately after the voting had been announced, the Lakers had media availability and the Lakers’ two stars – Davis and LeBron James – did not mince words about who they thought deserved the award:

It’s important to note here that this is the only major individual award of every NBA season that is not voted on by the media; Pelinka’s fellow executives are the voters. It’s also important to note that the votes were tallied before the NBA season restarted in the Orlando bubble so the voters did not have the benefit of seeing the Clippers choke away a 3-1 lead in the second round of the playoffs (that’s the most important thing to remember).

Still, even if you don’t think Pelinka was more deserving than Frank or OKC’s Sam Presti (who somehow finished second to the person he acquired about a million draft picks from in exchange for Paul George), seventh place is just ridiculous for Pelinka. No executive had to oversee as much turnover between hiring a new head coach, finalizing a massive trade, and building around the margins late in free agency after being spurned by Leonard as Pelinka did last summer.

Through all of that, Pelinka built at the very least a top three favorite in July and was vindicated throughout the season by the Lakers’ much maligned role player acquisitions – Avery Bradley and Dwight Howard to name just two examples – performing at high levels. How can you look at that and determine it’s less deserving of your vote than a Bucks front office that lost Malcolm Brogdon and signed…Robin Lopez? Or a Grizzlies front office that drafted the consensus number two overall pick? Or a Raptors front office that lost Leonard and Danny Green and made no major acquisitions?

There’s obviously a lot of shade that goes on in such an award race and it’s been reported before that Pelinka does not have the best of relationships with other executives in part due to his history as an agent. Still, it’s really disappointing not to see a person who was thrown under the bus and doubted as much as, if not more than, any of the other Lakers that have exceeded expectations be recognized for his job well done.

Guess Rob Pelinka will have to settle for a ring.

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