Although the Los Angeles Lakers were sitting atop the Western Conference prior to the coronavirus (COVID-19) shutdown, LeBron James and Anthony Davis were snubbed when it came to voting for the league’s most prestigious awards.
That has now applied to Lakers vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka, as his efforts went overlooked. The NBA announced L.A. Clippers president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank as the winner of the 2019-20 Basketball Executive of the Year Award after earning 10 of 29 first-place votes from fellow executives and finished with 61 total points.
Checking in behind Frank was Oklahoma City Thunder executive vice president/general manager Sam Presti with 41 points and Miami Heat president Pat Riley as a close third with 39 points.
Meanwhile, Pelinka finished with just 14 points and one first-place vote. The results have led to plenty of speculation regarding whether or not James’ presence minimized the role he played in bringing Davis to Los Angeles and surrounding the duo with the necessary pieces to succeed.
While most of Pelinka’s peers may have downplayed the job he did with the Lakers this season, head coach Frank Vogel shared nothing but praise for his collaborative approach.
“Everyone always wants to talk about collaboration but are not always willing to exhibit that type of collaboration. That’s what struck me first is that I was very, very involved in every personnel decision,” Vogel said.
“Really every, like, organizational decision that was made from the time I was hired. And it really has been a wonderful partnership between Rob and myself.”
Davis echoed Vogel’s comments regarding Pelinka’s willingness to include key members of the franchise in on major decisions. “Great GM, great executive. I know and the entire organization knows the work he’s put in to put this team together, to build this team, to compete for a championship and to be one win away,” Davis said.
“I know those awards don’t matter to him; championships do. We’re putting ourselves in a position, he put our team in a position to be able to be one win away. Once we finish our job and do what we’re supposed to do, then I don’t think no one is going to care about Executive of the Year. … That’s kind of been a thing this year with myself with Defensive Player of the Year, LeBron with MVP, now Rob with Executive of the Year.
“But if we’re able to win one more game, then no one cares about those other awards. We’ll all be champions.”
At this point, there is no denying that Pelinka’s approach has helped pay huge dividends for the Lakers given their immediate turnaround this season. Despite losing a starter in Avery Bradley, they managed to pick up where they left off by securing the No. 1 seed in the West en rout to a dominant playoff performance.
LeBron directs voting inquiry elsewhere
James questioned the criteria for MVP voting when he finished a distant second place to Milwaukee Buck star Giannis Antetokounmpo, and with the Lakers missing out on all the major individual awards, he was asked about the oddity for a championship contender.
“You’d have to ask whoever voted,” James responded.
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