Analyzing the Lakers front office is always an impossible task because of all the ambiguity involved. At the top, we know Jeanie Buss has final say and some general direction in regards to business, and we’re sure somewhere along the way a couple of Rambii get involved. But what comes before then as decisions get made?
This wouldn’t matter in the slightest if the Lakers were going in the right direction, but they’ve been seemingly drowning ever since winning their 17th championship and are hurtling towards the latest most important offseason in franchise history. This week in “The Lakers Lounge,” Harrison Faigen and I sat down and tried, with as much context as possible, to figure out whether we trust Rob Pelinka with that task.
Pelinka’s tenure has been defined by a couple things to this point: He moves incredibly secretly and cares so much more about star power that it borders on disregarding how role players impact winning.
The first of those two qualities is, honestly, a good thing. Sure, it was easier to do my job when Magic Johnson was group texting anyone and everyone the latest trade offer the Lakers made, but that’s no way to do business in a league as small as the NBA. Pelinka operating much more under the radar serves a Lakers organization that makes news plenty on its own.
The second of those characteristics is... less good.
Sure, the NBA is star-driven league and players actually worth max contracts (let alone worth more) are a legitimate market inefficiency. But once you screw up on a player on a max, it’s damn near impossible to remain a serious title contender. See: Westbrook, Russell.
If Pelinka is going to continue to define himself by the caliber of name the Lakers attract, I just don’t see how they dig themselves out of this hole. Instead, he’ll have to operate in the margins in ways he simply hasn’t shown a proclivity for, and that worries me above all else.
Well, maybe not above all else. It still isn’t a great sign even people within the Lakers organization have no idea what Linda Rambis is there to do — let alone Kurt. But short of that, and the general ambiguity with which decisions are seemingly made, Pelinka’s obsession with stars is a habit they’ll desperately need to break.
Harrison and I discussed whether we think they can, based on the moves they’ve made on Pelinka’s watch, whether we actually trust him to figure this out, and finished with a fun game of figuring out who from the organization’s peripheries we could see stepping in and saving the day.
And for a short-form recap pod, check out Lakers Lowdown, in which Anthony Irwin recaps the previous day’s news and gets you ready for the day ahead in LakerLand, every weekday morning on the Silver Screen & Roll Podcast feed.