The Lakers are coming off of their sixth consecutive season without a playoff berth despite the fact that they signed LeBron James, who hasn’t missed the postseason since 2006, to a four-year, $153.3 million deal last summer. Not only that, but there is a sense of uncertainty around the team’s front office after Magic Johnson stepped down from his position as president of basketball operations in April.
Thus far, all fans know is that general manager Rob Pelinka is overseeing basketball operations with the help of team president and controlling owner Jeanie Buss and her trusted advisors Kurt and Linda Rambis. It’s safe to say that Lakers fans aren’t too happy with the direction the front office is headed, as they staged a protest outside of Staples Center earlier this month.
However, even in spite of the very public criticism, Pelinka told Zach Lowe of ESPN that he and his colleagues plan to stick to their plan, for better or for worse:
Pelinka of course cannot say the words “Anthony Davis.” He’s also well aware that the Lakers’ brain trust -- him, Jeanie Buss, Linda Rambis, Kurt Rambis -- is taking a public beating. (That beating is deserved, by the way.) “The important thing in the eye of the storm is to keep your mind on doing your work excellently and not getting caught up in public opinion,” Pelinka said.
That’s just fine and dandy for the time being, but the pressure is going to pile on for Pelinka and Co. sooner rather than later, starting with the NBA Draft on June 20. If they fail to re-engage in trade talks with the New Orleans Pelicans for Anthony Davis, all of the outside noise will only get louder.
That’s not even to mention free agency, where they’ll be looking to pair LeBron James with another All-Star. If the Lakers don’t spend their roughly $32 million cap space this summer, it won’t roll over next summer because of Brandon Ingram’s $21.7 million cap hold.
So, whatever the front office’s master plan is needs to be executed this summer. If it’s not, it’s going to be really hard for Pelinka not to get caught up in the public’s opinion.