For more than a month, the Los Angeles Lakers stayed quiet after former president of basketball operations Magic Johnson’s sudden resignation.
However, at the 2019 NBA Draft Lottery, general manager Rob Pelinka made his first public appearance as he represented the Lakers in the lottery room while Kyle Kuzma represented them on stage.
After all of the criticism Pelinka and company have received so far, the Lakers defied the odds and landed the No. 4 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. For an organization trying to stabilize themselves, it was unexpected to move up seven spots and Pelinka will explore all options leading up to June 20.
While there are still more questions than answers, Pelinka revealed his role as general manager has not changed since Johnson’s resignation, according to Mike Trudell of Lakers:
“My role as the GM right now is the same as it was when we selected Lonzo Ball with the second pick, which was our last high pick. My role hasn’t changed since then.”
As there are conflicting reports about Pelinka’s reputation around the league, he is focused on ‘doing the work’ in what is an important offseason:
“I think the biggest motto is just laser focused, head down, do the work. I think that we’ve been trying as an organization to just be methodical and continue a path forward, and doing the work. Our job is to put in the work to make the Lakers a successful organization for our fanbase, and that’s really the course and the path we’ve been on. This is just a burst of good will for us as a franchise. It just gives us some excitement and kind of a nice launching pad going into next year after some of the difficult things we had to go through last year. Our focus right now is just head down, do the work.”
Speaking to the media for the very first time, it appears Pelinka has the right mindset amid the chaos. While most may not agree with the team’s front office structure which reportedly involves senior basketball advisor Kurt Rambis and special projects executive director Linda Rambis, winning cures all.
However, it is fair to question if the front office can truly build a championship contender heading into the 2019-20 NBA season. With an unexpected No. 4 pick and ample cap space in free agency, the Lakers are well-positioned to significantly improve the roster around LeBron James and perhaps the young core.