It’s been two days since the Los Angeles Lakers started engaging in trade talks with the New Orleans Pelicans for Anthony Davis and so far, there’s no reason to believe the Lakers aren’t the favorites to land the 26-year-old, six-time All-Star. However, if there was one reason to be pessimistic about the Lakers’ chance of landing A.D., it would probably start with the team’s front office — namely general manager Rob Pelinka.
Pelinka and Co. had a rough go at it after signing LeBron James to a four-year, $153.3 million deal with the Lakers last summer, but they’ll have a chance to redeem themselves this offseason, starting with the Davis trade negotiations.
Unfortunately, negotiations haven’t exactly been a strength of Pelinka’s since he took over as the team’s general manager in 2017, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (via the “Ryen Russillo Show”):
“It’ll be interesting to see how L.A. handles these trade talks here, heading into the weekend with New Orleans, because I’ll give Rob Pelinka this: He negotiates from a level of great confidence in all these trades he’s been involved in. Where the rest of us would look and say ‘you might want to just get one of these guys, just do a deal one of these guys and get LeBron a really big co-star,’ he’ll be pretty meticulous in who he offers and how much he’ll put in a deal. And it’s cost them. With Paul George it cost them. Now with Kawhi, I don’t know if the Spurs were ever doing that deal unless the Lakers grossly overpaid, but they never made a big, big offer.
“So again, they’d better get Anthony Davis, because they don’t have another way to dramatically improve their team this offseason. They’re not a frontrunner for any of the big free agents. They’re not a consideration for a lot of the free agents. But if they can pull off a deal with AD and have him, and be able to hold on to some cap space based on how much money they’re sending back, then maybe some players would start to look at them differently.”
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the guy that represented Kobe Bryant for so many years is notoriously overly confident, but if his confidence is coming off as arrogance to opposing league executives, it’s going to be hard for the Lakers to do deals with anyone, let alone David Griffin.
Perhaps this would be less of a big deal if this was the first time we’ve heard of him being difficult to negotiate with, but it’s not. In April, Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times spoke to an agent that said he won’t work with Pelinka. If that’s not enough cause for concern, Pelinka’s old boss, Magic Johnson, wasn’t his biggest fan either.
Could Pelinka end up having a bounce-back summer with the Lakers? Absolutely, but it sounds like he’s making things harder on himself than it should be.