If you’ve been following basketball this season, you may have noticed that the Lakers have really delivered some promising results. Anthony Davis ought to be considered for MVP. At his age, LeBron James is doing unheard-of feats. It looks like Lonnie Walker IV is a player that belongs in the rotation. Austin Reaves has advanced significantly. Due in large part to rookie head coach Darvin Ham’s ability to persuade Russell Westbrook to embrace and succeed in a new position, Westbrook may have had his career rescued.
Although the Lakers may have hoped for more victories, there is still a lot to admire if basketball is your primary interest. Problem: It’s tough to genuinely concentrate on the basketball because of the way Rob Pelinka has handled this season.
Pelinka is stealing any joy this season could have brought by setting yet another self-imposed, arbitrary deadline that will pass without a Westbrook trade, and by setting yet another self-imposed, arbitrary deadline now that it has been set, while we all wait for the trade that should have actually happened months ago.
James and Davis have maintained their part of the deal so far this season. Despite James’ absences this season, he signed his agreement and released Pelinka from unnecessary pressure. Davis has participated in all but two games so far this season, spending every minute at centre.
If Pelinka’s agreement with them was to “hold down the fort until I can work this out,” then the moment has come for Pelinka to start doing so. It might be time to locate someone who can if he is unable or unwilling to accomplish that.
Sadly for the Lakers, Jeanie Buss determined after the 2017–18 campaign that Pelinka’s actions called for an extension. Nobody is surprised that he is repeating the same errors and running the risk of another equally difficult season since he avoided responsibility for his part in the most disappointing season in Lakers history.
To her credit, Buss said she had to remove her brother Jim because he was in charge of too much losing and it was damaging the Lakers’ reputation. Yes, it makes sense to me. Pelinka’s apparent indifference about losses mounting should be dealt with similarly grave repercussions if that was her threshold for change. At least all of Jim’s defeats resulted in valuable lottery draught picks.
The obvious self-serving nature of everything here is more frustrating than anything else. After waiting months, Pelinka cannot make the same Buddy Hield for Myles Turner move because the first 20 games would have been for nothing. The former super agent would appear to have lost a deal if he eventually gives up both the 2027 and ’29 selections now, a pattern that has come to characterise his time as an executive.
We may act as though the reason for all the delays is that certain players might become available in the middle of December or that the market would strengthen as we approach January, but it seems just as probable that Pelinka’s ego is getting in the way of what’s best for the team. If so, that just adds to the astonishingly extensive number of reasons he is unfit for the position.
It’s a hard choice to give up one’s ego for the sake of others around you. It’s difficult to fire a dear friend when they demonstrate that they are in over their heads. However, they’ve already done their share, as have the requests they’re making of Ham, James, Davis, and even Westbrook. Either Buss or Pelinka will eventually have to fulfil their commitments. We’ll all be stuck concentrating more on the trade machine than the basketball until they do.
When it comes to concentrating on basketball, Leigh Ellis (previously of No Dunks, Inc.) told me that he had become weary of covering the NBA’s transformation and had instead decided to embark on one of the coolest projects I’ve ever seen. Visit all of his social media sites to follow his 20 Games in 20 Cities in 20 Countries trip.