2022-23 Los Angeles Lakers Review: Rob Pelinka
Rob Pelinka, Lakers
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Obviously in the end, the success of the Los Angeles Lakers comes down to the players on the court executing the game plan. But without a doubt, someone who deserves a lot of credit for the Lakers’ run to the Western Conference Finals is general manager and vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka.

Many have spoken about the the Lakers’ mid-season trades changing the fortunes of team and even LeBron James has said those deals motivated him. But the year for Pelinka didn’t necessarily start out in the best way and he came under a lot of criticism for his offseason moves.

The Lakers traded into the second-round to draft Max Christie, a move which seems pretty good so far, though the jury is still out after a solid rookie season. To kick off free agency, the Lakers signed a pair of wings in Troy Brown Jr. and Juan Toscano-Anderson as well as center Damian Jones. A few days later, the team added Lonnie Walker IV and Thomas Bryant.

While the moves were solid, they were far from the game-changing acquisitions that were expected, namely a big trade. In late August, Pelinka did indeed make a trade, but not the one most were expecting. The Lakers traded Talen Horton-Tucker and Stanley Johnson to the Utah Jazz for guard Patrick Beverley. They would also sign point guard Dennis Schroder in September.

Again, the moves were decent and the Schroder signing in particular was huge for the Lakers, but as the season neared, Pelinka came under a lot of scrutiny for not dealing away Russell Westbrook. While there were offers on the table, Pelinka refused to surrender both the Lakers’ 2027 and 2029 picks in such a move. As it turns out, Pelinka sticking to his guns would pay huge dividends down the line.

With the Lakers struggling during the season, Pelinka made his first mid-season trade, sending Kendrick Nunn and three second-round picks to the Washington Wizards for forward Rui Hachimura. This turned out to be an absolutely crucial move as Hachimura was one of the key pieces for the Lakers in the postseason.

But the big move came on Feb. 9. The Lakers sent out Russell Westbrook, Damian Jones, Juan Toscano-Anderson and a 2027 first-round pick to the Utah Jazz in a three-team deal that brought them back D’Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt and Malik Beasley. The Lakers would also deal Patrick Beverley and Thomas Bryant in a four-team trade, receiving Mo Bamba and Davon Reed.

This re-vamped Lakers roster would go on a run all the way to the Western Conference Finals and Pelinka undoubtedly deserves credit for putting it together.

2022-23 Highlight

The highlight for Pelinka undoubtedly was the trade deadline on Feb. 9. While other moves were made prior, it was this day that changed the fortunes of the Lakers season. The acquisitions of Russell, Beasley and Vanderbilt in particular changed the energy in the locker room.

Those players worked so well with LeBron James and Anthony Davis and the move also opened up an opportunity for Austin Reaves to grow into one of the Lakers’ core pieces not only this season, but going forward as well.

2023-24 Outlook

Pelinka and the Lakers front office will have a lot of big decisions to make this offseason. Both Reaves and Hachimura are restricted free agents and while both are expected to be brought back, it could be very costly.

Additionally, other important players such as Russell, Schroder, Walker and Brown are unrestricted free agents while Beasley and Bamba both have team options that the Lakers must decide whether to pick up or not.

The Lakers want to build on their playoff run and there will be a lot of pressure on Pelinka to make the right choices in putting this roster together.

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