The Los Angeles Lakers continued their downward spiral on Tuesday night, losing 109-104 to the Dallas Mavericks. The team was behind by 15 at halftime, however, they did show much more effort in the first, third, and fourth quarters than they did in any part of their previous loss against the Pelicans. However, even with a decent amount of effort, the roster that Rob Pelinka built wasn’t enough (yet again) to beat one of the better teams in the NBA.
Following Tuesday night, Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer came out with a report Wednesday morning that covered all of the current hot topics surrounding the team, specifically Russell Westbrook, Rob Pelinka, and Frank Vogel.
In regards to Pelinka, Fischer reported that “League insiders remain dubious that Pelinka is truly entrenched as Los Angeles’ lead executive beyond this season.” However, Fischer also indicates that Pelinka — who obviously has such strong and deep ties with the organization from his previous job as an agent to Kobe Bryant — has “strong support” from the key figures running the Lakers such as owner Jeanie Buss and her confidants Kurt and Linda Rambis. That support is so strong from years and years of working with each other, that one assistant GM had the following to say about it to Fischer:
“His relationship with Kurt and Linda and Jeanie, it is very much a mom and pop shop,” one assistant general manager told B/R.
Of course, it was the trade deadline this season that has caused such speculation on Rob Pelinka and his job security moving forward. This was due to the subtle, and yet possibly passive-aggressive praise LeBron James gave a couple of other GMs around the league during the All-Star break as well as the back-and-forth leaks that were going on that weekend as well. LeBron has joined in agent Rich Paul’s claims that the relationship between the Lakers and them is currently fine, however, even if Paul and LeBron are fine with the decisions at the deadline, it sounds as if some of the league’s front office were rubbed the wrong way by Pelinka during that time.
Fischer reported the following regarding Pelinka’s activity around the 2022 NBA Trade Deadline:
Several rival front offices have indicated Pelinka has lacked when it comes to working with opposing teams.
“He wasn’t returning some teams calls at [this year’s] deadline,” one general manager told B/R.
“He was an asshole as an agent,” said another assistant general manager. “He had the most powerful players and if he wanted the player moved, he would’ve eviscerated you as a staff to get whatever he wanted. You can’t do that to people, and then expect them to work with you when you join their side.”
On a side note, there’s also reported “growing speculation” that the head of basketball operations for Paul’s Klutch Sports — Omar Wilkes — could end up replacing Pelinka. As exciting as it would be to see the Lakers fanbase and the NBA fanbase at large react to this type of move, Fischer’s reporting on that “speculation” makes it seem like it has no basis in reality:
However, multiple sources with knowledge of the situation strongly denied Wilkes’ candidacy to replace Pelinka, citing his hands-on role within Klutch’s collegiate recruiting efforts. To be clear, the Lakers have not contacted him for any position. Wilkes has already landed an impressive client list starring Trae Young and Anthony Edwards, and has long been courting talented Duke forward Paolo Banchero, widely considered a top-three prospect in the 2022 NBA Draft. Wilkes and Paul were seen courtside at the Blue Devils’ Las Vegas game against fellow top prospect Chet Holmgren and Gonzaga earlier this season.
Banchero is currently signed with CAA for NIL marketing deals this season. And what seems indicative of a larger battle brewing between Klutch Sports and CAA, three people familiar with the matter told B/R that the speculation about Wilkes overtaking the Lakers front office has been fueled in part by CAA personnel, in the agency’s effort to retain Banchero for the NBA Draft. One person with knowledge of CAA’s dealings refuted that claim.
Yes, that’s right. The position of “Lakers’ top decision-maker” has become a bargaining chip for the representation of the next potential number one overall pick of the NBA. Just another day in Laker land.
We will have articles on the other aspects of Fischer’s reports surrounding the Lakers later in the day, but I’d welcome you to read the piece in full.
As for my read on the Pelinka situation after reading the article, it continues to seem like Pelinka’s role will be safe going into and coming out of the 2022 summer. “League insiders” and opposing front offices can drag his name through the mud and question his job security all they want. None of those anonymous sources are Jeanie Buss, and if Fischer is reporting that Buss (as well as the Rambii) still strongly support Pelinka at the start of March, after everything that has transpired this year, there will almost certainly be no new developments between now and the end of the season that would change that.