Lakers News: LeBron James Letting Rob Pelinka Handle Trade Talks While His Focus Is On The Court
LeBron James, Lakers
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

When the Los Angeles Lakers officially acquired Rui Hachimura in a trade with the Washington Wizards, general manager and vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka reiterated that the team would not trade first-round picks without a championship-caliber return.

LeBron James, in the midst of another spectacular season, has been relatively open about his desire for the Lakers to trade their first-round picks to help improve the roster. However, he has refrained from saying those exact words publicly.

When given another opportunity to state whether or not he agrees with Pelinka’s stance, James instead opted to return his focus back to what he can control.

“How does it sit with you? He said it to you guys. He was talking to you. He wasn’t talking to us,” James rebuffed when asked how Pelinka’s comments sit with him. “Rob [Pelinka] is going to do his job. That’s his job. My job is to go on the floor and make sure my guys in the locker room are ready to go.”

James certainly wasn’t pleased with the line of question regarding Pelinka’s unwillingness to make a major trade. However, he did respond positively to the Hachimura acquisition. “Looking forward to it. The game is played in between the four lines, and we’ll see what happens once we get him acclimated.”

If the Hachimura trade is a sign of what the Lakers’ strategy might be ahead of the trade deadline, then there is perhaps reason for optimism. Hachimura fills a need for the Lakers and is only 24 years old, despite some of the struggles he’s had in his first four NBA seasons.

Between now and Feb. 9, Pelinka and the Lakers may decide to ship out the 2027 and 2029 first-round picks. There’s almost no denying that it could improve the roster and keep James happy. However, the hesitancy to make a deal of that magnitude is understandable.

The last time the Lakers went out on a limb to make a blockbuster trade, they landed Russell Westbrook, a move that arguably set the franchise back by several years. Making another major move just to rid themselves of that mistake could lead to other catastrophic results.

Pelinka has typically consulted James and Anthony Davis on potential roster moves and while he will do so again, he echoed James regarding their individual responsibilities over the next few weeks.

“I think we’ve said before, our captains LeBron [James] and Anthony Davis are always involved in what Coach Ham is doing, what the front office is doing, and at the same time, I think LeBron said it really well at the press conference the other night when he said my job is to play basketball,” Pelinka said. “The front office’s job is to do their job and to build a roster, and Coach Ham’s job is to coach. I agree with that we all have to do our jobs and do them with excellence and all be together, and that’s how we operate and will continue to operate.”

James unsurprised by success without Davis

Another major factor in the trade conversation has been the team’s relatively strong performance without Davis in the lineup. The Lakers finished 11-10 in the 21 games Davis missed, which has kept them in the postseason conversation.

James spoke about the team’s performance though, saying that he wasn’t too surprised. “I didn’t expect anything besides to go out and compete. Okay, AD is out. What can we do? I just want to play the game and see what happens.”

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