For the first time since the dumpster fire that was the NBA trade deadline, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka addressed the state of the locker room on Friday and it didn’t sound like he had any regrets about what transpired over the last few days, or any potential effects it had on the team.
In a one-on-one interview with Spectrum SportsNet, Pelinka said that trade rumors hovering over the locker room are just part of the business, and that he also has to deal with the outside chatter:
“At the end of the day all of us have jobs that are being publicly discussed. The wins and losses in the front office are publicly being discussed. Good trade, bad trade, same for players. I think it’s when we invite ourselves, or when we have the blessing I guess, to be in this business you realize that its just part of being in the territory.
“I think it’s important to recognize that it’s part of the business, and hopefully with the trade deadline over the group will stay together. We have a mission to make a playoff push, get in the playoffs and make some noise.”
Whether or not they make the playoffs will depend on how they respond to the adversity they’ve faced this season.
Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson is planning to meet with the team to discuss all the rumors, and Pelinka is hopeful that that the Lakers can push through it as a group:
“When we had a significant slew of injuries we were fourth, and we were couple games back from the second or third seed in the West on Christmas Day when LeBron got injured, but we can’t look at that as an excuse. I think we have to look at that as an opportunity.
“Life is full of circumstances that you can’t predict, they fly at you and you have to react to it, you gotta batten down the hatches and find a way to get through it, and I think that hopefully with our team we’ve gone through some of this adversity and it’ll meld us together, and if we can get in the playoffs, I think I wouldn’t want to see us in any seven-game matchup.”
The Lakers’ exhilarating victory over the Boston Celtics on Thursday certainly set a good tone for the team moving forward and they’re going to capitalize on that momentum if they want to punch a ticket to the postseason.
The Lakers have just 27 games left in the regular season, and are still a game and a half back of the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Clippers. Before they can claim the eighth seed, though, they have to leapfrog the Sacramento Kings, who added Harrison Barnes and Alec Burks at the trade deadline.
While it’s more likely than not the Clippers fall out of the playoff picture after trading away Tobias Harris, the Kings don’t look like they’re going anywhere. Not only did they add talent at the deadline, but according to Tankathon, they’re ranked 20th in remaining schedule toughness. For context, the Lakers are ranked ninth.
It’s certainly hard to imagine James missing out on the postseason for the first time in over a decade, but it’s a real possibility. Hopefully Thursday was a sign of things to come for Los Angeles, and not a bright spot in what could be a rough close to the season. If it’s the latter, they won’t even get the chance to make the postseason “noise” that Pelinka thinks they can.