After a rocky start to his tenure in the Los Angeles Lakers front office, vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka has done a masterful job in ensuring the franchise is set up to compete for titles for the foreseeable future.
Last offseason, Pelinka swung a blockbuster deal for Anthony Davis and added around the margins to give head coach Frank Vogel a legitimate shot to a championship. However, Pelinka outdid himself during this year’s brief offseason as he added more talent and youth to the roster while also agreeing to an extension with LeBron James and long-term deal with Davis.
For his efforts, people like Magic Johnson have come out and said that Pelinka deserves more respect. Adding younger players like Dennis Schroder and Montrezl Harrell should help the Lakers get through what will surely be a difficult 2020-21 season.
Opening Night is set for Dec. 22, when the Lakers will take on the L.A. Clippers. Historically that would be accompanied by a defending champion raising a banner and receiving their rings. However, Pelinka noted that the presentation of rings may or may not happen that night.
“That’s a good question,” he began. “Our business side, who is led by Tim Harris, they tend to be more in charge of those things and it’s something that is ongoing. I don’t want to answer a question I don’t know the answer to.”
The quick turnaround from the end of the 2020 NBA Finals might delay the ceremony, but it is a minor inconvenience in the grand scheme of things. What matters is Vogel finding a way to ease the players back into playing shape while remaining competitive throughout the course of the year.
Pelinka believes Lakers are motivated to win another title
Whenever a team wins a title, it is more difficult to get back to the mountaintop the following year. It is human nature for motivation and drive to wane, but Pelinka remains confident that the Lakers are still hungry to win it all.
“I think we’ve got a lot of really passionate guys and a lot of really high-IQ basketball players,” Pelinka said. “So I don’t think there’s going to be any lack of energy and intensity. I kind of felt it in the building with our individual workouts, which everyone knows have started.
“I think this team is excited to play, excited for the challenges of coming together. I think one of the hardest things to do in all of sports is defending a title, and I think in talking with the 15 players that are on our roster, everybody recognizes just how difficult it is to do it twice in a row.
“It’s a whole separate set of challenges, it’s very different than winning a title after 10 years, which is what we experienced last year. So I think guys understand the gravity around that and just how big of a challenge that is and I think they’re up for that and excited to take on that challenge and really just excited to get to work.”
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