If there are two things Rob Pelinka has mastered, it’s trading away or for guys named Russell, and analogies. The Lakers general manager got to show off the latter skill at Thursday’s press conference when asked about re-signing a player that fits in the former category, D’Angelo Russell.
Pelinka, who has memorably both compared the young Lakers to “Lover” singer Taylor Swift and compared players having to deal with trade rumors to two lovers on an overstuffed trolley car, had another love-related comparison to make about Russell’s 2023 stint with the team, which saw him come in at the trade deadline, help fuel a run to the Western Conference Finals, and then get benched in the team’s season-ending loss to the Denver Nuggets.
“I remember Darvin and I sitting in our exit meeting with D’Angelo and it was coming off the emotional Western Conference Finals, you lose to the champions, and he didn’t get a chance to play as much in that series,” Pelinka said. “We talked about it and said ‘listen, from the time the trade happened until the end of the Denver series... Let’s look at it as a great honeymoon.
“You can go on a honeymoon with your significant other and you can have 13 incredible days. Perfect days. And if lunch on the 13th day isn’t as good as you want it to be, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t an incredible trip.’”
It’s not quite comparing the signing of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to bread falling from heaven or reading from “The Alchemist” to open up a press conference about adding LeBron James, but it’s a solid Pelinkanalogy™ nonetheless.
And ultimately, even if the point was made in a way that leaves us with a lot more questions than answers about Pelinka’s honeymoon — and where he ate lunch on the last day of it, or why he thinks this situation is a common enough occurrence to use the royal “you” — he’s right. Russell was more helpful last year than the bad taste of the final vacation lunch at a soggy pizza place that got your order wrong that was his final performance has left some believing, and that’s what Pelinka really wanted to emphasize heading into the coming season.
“We want to keep the bigger picture with him that he came here, he impacted our season in a huge way, led us into the playoffs, led us to beat the defending champs in the Warriors, was a big part of that playoff series, and I will say that his offseason has been quietly really impressive. He’s really carried himself with a confident spirit, he’s been a vocal leader on the court and in the workouts that have been going on with his teammates,” Pelinka said.
“It looks like he was very intentional too about just taking care of his body and adding a little bit of shoulder strength. I think you guys will see, he’s bumping guys off their line, getting into his fadeaway package, and D’Angelo is in a really good headspace.”
Given that Darvin Ham has already said Russell is starting this year, Lakers fans will have to wait, watch and hope that’s all true. Otherwise Pelinka’s next public analogy about Russell after the trade deadline may involve divorce.
You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.