Predictably, given how much of a boogeyman the Lakers are in free agency rumors around the league each year, this has led to some teams afraid that Los Angeles may come for their players with big offers.
One such team is (was?) the Miami HEAT, who had “some concern that Dion Waiters’ former agent, new Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, might make a big offer for Waiters this summer,” according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald (h/t Lakers Outsiders).
That “concern” is past-tense for a reason, however, because the HEAT were reassured by comments from non other than the Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson, with Jackson citing comments Johnson made to reporters last month that he was “really looking to keep the cap space that we have and really try to play in next year’s free agent class, and not really this free agent class.”
Jackson added that the HEAT front office “doesn’t want to overpay” to keep Waiters.
Now that Pelinka is the Lakers’ general manager, the normal apprehension teams have (or at least leak that they have) about the Lakers luring their free agents away is going to be an extra-large narrative in the case of every one of Pelinka’s former clients.
It’s easy to assume such a connection means those players will be more likely to come play for him in free agency, but it also assumes that Pelinka wants that former player on the team. He probably likes the majority of his former clients and they probably like him, but that doesn’t necessarily make the Lakers a fit for either side.
Context has to be considered in these scenarios, which the HEAT seemed to do in this case. We’ll see if the same proves true with the rest of Pelinka’s former players, or if it’s just assumed the Lakers want to sign everyone he used to work for to huge deals for the rest of the time his former clients are in the league.