Rob Pelinka and the Lakers have positioned themselves as the championship favorites, a designation that they would have probably received no matter what they did in free agency if LeBron James and Anthony Davis were in tow. The outlook on their 2020-21 season was improved even more when they made some surprising and impressive moves in the offseason, highlighted by the trade for Dennis Schröder and the surprise signing of Montrezl Harrell in the opening night of free agency. Those two signings not only improved the Lakers’ offense right away, but also gave them two young and talented players in their control with the potential to make them long-time Lakers.
Rob Pelinka spoke to reporters ahead of the Lakers’ first practice on Friday, confirming that that was his exact thinking when acquiring Schröder and Harrell (per Harrison Faigen/Silver Screen & Roll).
Pelinka said that one of the goals of their offseason "was to get younger."
They wanted to find players that "could win now but line up with AD… We like that the team got younger and faster."
He mentioned Schröder and Harrell as two guys that do that.
— NBA INSIDER HARRISON FAIGEN (@hmfaigen) December 4, 2020
Pelinka points out that not only did they get younger (Schröder and Harrell are 27 and 26 years old respectively) but they got faster as well. This is definitely true when you consider Schröder and Harrell to be direct replacements to Rajon Rondo and Dwight Howard. Both of those players are 34 years old, and neither can replicate Schröder and Harrell’s athletic abilities on the offensive end (short of Playoff Rondo looking like prime Magic Johnson).
Rob Pelinka appears to not only have the present in his mind, but the future. Dennis Schröder will be an unrestricted free agent next offseason, while Montrezl Harrell will have a player option for the 2021-22 season. Both can venture to other teams in the offseason, but Pelinka may want to keep them if their fit with LeBron James and Anthony Davis is seamless. This will be something that I’m sure Pelinka and the front office will monitor this season — championship or not — as they will decide next offseason whether the two players improve the team in addition to making them younger.