After the Los Angeles Lakers miraculously overcame the odds Tuesday night and moved up to snag themselves the No. 4 pick, Rob Pelinka hopped on a conference call to field questions about the exciting night and path forward.
The Lakers are in a much better spot than they ever could’ve realistically hoped for and have options they wouldn’t have had otherwise thanks to their luck, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have tough decisions to make. Pelinka, in his own meandering way, detailed what the next couple months have in store for a franchise looking to build on Tuesday night’s momentum (h/t: Mike Trudell of NBA.com):
“I think our goal is to have an extraordinary successful and winning season, but I think if you look around the landscape of the league, there are young players that come in in the top five of the Draft and have an immediate impact and do great things, even in the playoffs.
“We’re going to have to look really, really hard at the candidates we could select there and see if they can have an immediate impact on winning. There is a precedent around the league where young players have (had success).
“But again, if we can use (the pick) in a trade that solidifies us in a better way, we’ll look at that as well. I think it’s early in the evaluation process, obviously we just were awarded the top pick, so now begins the fun of dissecting all the different options and making those choices.”
Look: Jokes aside at the way Pelinka talks, it is good to see him using a bunch of words without really saying anything. This isn’t even sarcasm, either. It’s an important skill to be able to talk and not give anything away. The above quote is exactly that.
Pelinka does understand that this is quite the gift to fall out of the sky, though:
“I think that, listen, when you make decisions there are multiple factors … I do think that rookie contracts are extraordinarily valuable, because usually you’re getting extremely talented players at cost-controlled numbers.
“So that’s one of many factors we’ll look at when deciding to select a player there or using it as a trade asset. But the way we make decisions as a front office is to look at all the factors. I don’t think there’s any one factor that will control it.
“We’ll look at everything and make a decision for what’s best to have an extraordinarily successful, winning year next year, because that’s what our fans expect, and that’s what we’re going to deliver to them.”
Again, this is basically Pelinka saying that the Lakers have a ton to figure out and will do all they can to improve their standing for next season and beyond.
Still, there are a couple notes to make here: First, Pelinka makes a note about how players at the top of the draft can step in and immediately help a team. While he’s obviously correct, the hope here is that he would not pick a player for their readiness to help rather than talent level. The draft scouting department has been overwhelmingly successful, but last year’s draft group wasn’t great and the Lakers can’t afford to strike out like that again if they wind up using this pick.
Another concern here is the very glaring lack of clarity on the decision-making process. He also said in this interview that he holds the same job as last season. Does this mean they dissolved Magic Johnson’s old position? Did Kurt Rambis step into that gig? Where does Phil Jackson fit into all this? And at what point will Jeanie actually set the record straight on what is going on?
Pelinka gave good answers to the questions given this current situation. It’s just hard to take them all that seriously without knowing who holds how much power.
All in all, though, it’s good to have something positive to point to. The pick reopens the possibility of landing Anthony Davis in ways previously thought long gone. If they don’t use it for that, then the Lakers scouting department can once again show why they’re considered the most promising aspect of the organization. Pelinka handling this presser in the way he did was also good to see. Now the focus shifts to building on this momentum.