Rob Pelinka has described a player-first culture within the Los Angeles Lakers basically since he was hired, and especially since he took over as lead decision-maker in the wake of Magic Johnson’s resignation.
So it should shock literally no one that Pelinka weighed LeBron James and Anthony Davis’ input when he was figuring out what the rest of the roster would look like around them.
“(LeBron) was locked in. I mean, it was numerous phone calls, usually three-way phone calls with LeBron, myself and Anthony. Three-way text messages but incredibly focused and open-minded. The approach is never ‘you need to go do this,’ it’s always, ‘hey, what do you think about this,’” he told reporters at media day Friday.
Let’s take a quick second to figure out what kind of mass-texter Rob Pelinka might be. On one hand, he’s almost definitely an essay typer but on top of that, he’s also likely the guy who “likes” or “loves” every single text that gets sent. That person is the worst. Don’t be that person.
Back on the subject at hand, though, it seems one former Laker had quite a bit of support from Davis and James.
“I think that was represented in the process leading to Dwight Howard. I think it was important that, not only from a front office perspective and a coaching perspective, but from a playing perspective that everyone was aligned,” Pelinka said.
According to Pelinka, the starting point with Howard was the conversation they had.
“It was very genuine and then that led into conversations with the coaching staff and the players, and that’s that’s really how we’re doing things is to make sure that we’re a family of 15 people and everyone’s voice matters,” Pelinka said. “LeBron was incredibly locked into the whole process and has been great to work with.”
As you’d imagine, though, the makeup at the top of the roster makes Pelinka’s job quite a bit easier. Expectations are obviously higher, but he has a problem just about any executive in the world would happily swap the concerns facing their team for.
“When your starting point of your roster is two of the best players in the universe. That’s a really strong starting point. And when LeBron put his trust in this organization and chose to come here as a free agent, we had to reciprocate the trust back and build a team that puts great players in a position to be the last team standing,” Pelinka said. “We’re going to live in the now and stay present, but we were very confident in these guys and their ability to reach the ultimate goal.”
Davis (and James for that matter) is a fan of the moves, it would seem.
“I think the front office did a great job of including LeBron and myself in the decisions to build this team. Every guy that is on this team, me and LeBron had a say-so,” Davis said. “That’s very important. When you’re going to war with guys every day, it would be pretty weird to go to war with guys that you don’t like.
“All you can ask for is a chance in this league, and we definitely have a chance to do something special. Some of the guys even texted me, like, ‘you and LeBron? Can I join?’ So it was pretty easy on my end,” Davis continued. “Now we have all the right pieces to do what we want to do and reach our ultimate goal.”
Davis makes a pertinent and interesting point there. Everyone on this roster right now knows that, at some point, two of the NBA’s biggest stars and best players spoke up for them. That’s a great starting point for team chemistry and, given how little consistency the Lakers have on the roster, chemistry is going to be absolutely vital as they try to figure out the best way to operate together.
Will all of this matter this season? Well, there’s just no way to know for sure. But the Lakers are putting their best foot forward while they try to convince Davis to stick around long-term. If this pays dividends this year and is something Davis points to if and when he re-ups beyond his current contract, then Pelinka’s strategy will have fully paid off. At the end of the day, that’s all anyone involved can hope for.