Since the initial announcement of the Anthony Davis trade with the New Orleans Pelicans, general manager Rob Pelinka and the Los Angeles Lakers have gone about their business in an extremely competent way.
However, it wasn’t long before that when former president of basketball operations Magic Johnson put the team in a huge hole by resigning and accusing Pelinka of ‘backstabbing.’
When Johnson resigned on the final day of the 2018-19 NBA season without telling anyone, it felt like rock bottom for a team that had spent six seasons searching for a way back to championship contention. However, Pelinka — who many in the NBA world and obviously Johnson himself didn’t trust — managed to right the ship almost immediately.
Despite everything that had happened, Pelinka showed his gratitude for Johnson and his passion for helping the team, a move that showed the general manager’s maturity in the face of huge backlash.
“We’re incredibly grateful of his supportive messages. We know he’s pulling for the Lakers, he’s made that very clear. We’ve just appreciated the support he’s shown from the outside,” Pelinka said. “There are certain league-mandated rules we have to follow around that, but he’s been nothing but supportive and excited about the roster, players and team that we have.”
Pelinka followed that up by thanking Johnson for setting the goal of getting two All-Star players when he first arrived as president of basketball operations, a box he feels has finally been ‘checked’ by getting LeBron James and Anthony Davis together.
“I want to thank Magic, too, just for the goal he set for this franchise about two years ago to getting to a place where we had two superstars on our roster,” Pelinka said. “I think that box is checked today with two of the top five players in all of basketball on our Los Angeles Lakers roster.”
Pelinka choosing to take the high road in what has likely been a tumultuous summer for him personally shows what type of leader he can be. Many Lakers fans and people around the league were highly skeptical of him when it was announced that he would retain his position as general manager and actually get more power within the organization, and rightfully so.
But since then, Pelinka has shown an ability to team build in a way that Johnson simply didn’t. If the current roster is what the fanbase can expect from Pelinka for the near future in terms of that, then it’s possible that owner Jeanie Buss made the right call sticking with him.