After the Los Angeles Lakers declined to make any moves at the 2022 NBA Trade Deadline, the team’s vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka took questions from reporters on a conference call. While generally explaining that there was no offer that both satisfied the franchise’s short and long-term goals, he was asked if LeBron James and Anthony Davis — whom he typically consults with on major personnel decisions — were cool with the Lakers’ standing pat.
“Throughout this process we had different things we looked at and like I’ve done in the past had conversations with LeBron and Anthony about it and I would say there’s alignment here. And that’s all that matters,” Pelinka stated.
"The work was put in, we all worked hard but we ended up standing pat." Rob Pelinka with @LakersReporter on the #Lakers deciding not to make a move before today's trade deadline. pic.twitter.com/dtKApdGGET
— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) February 11, 2022
However, a source told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin that Pelinka’s account of the situation was “totally false.”
“Rob said that he was trying to weigh the short term and the long term for this franchise, and that’s ultimately why when the Rockets wanted the Lakers to include a first-round pick, talks fizzled. When there was a three-team discussion between the Raptors and the Knicks and first-round compensation was desired, talks fizzled.
But Rob Pelinka also said that ultimately there was alignment between him, LeBron James and Anthony Davis to not make a move. Now, things get interesting here, where I am told from a source familiar with LeBron and Anthony’s thinking, is that that is ‘totally false’. That there was no conversation between Rob Pelinka, LeBron, and Anthony Davis on Thursday. That there was no go-ahead of an OK to have inaction at the deadline. And so where things stand out right now, that tells me there’s not just problems with what you’re seeing on the court…but there’s problems off the court between an alignment … and his leaders on this team.”
“Pelinka said there was alignment between him, LeBron, Anthony Davis to not make a move. I am told from a source familiar with LeBron & AD’s thinking that this is, ‘totally false.’ There was no conversation between the 3 on Thursday.”
Oh Lakers… 😳
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) February 11, 2022
McMenamin’s reporting, to use Pelinka’s term, aligns with how LeBron has conducted business in the past — with the Lakers and in previous stops — as well as his recent comments amidst the Lakers pre-deadline struggles. James has often pushed for front offices to trade future first-rounders for immediate help, and he certainly doesn’t personally value the 2027 1st. Earlier this week, LeBron conceded the Lakers, as currently constructed, are not good enough to contend for a ring — a clear signal to the front office to shake things up.
Of course, Pelinka was at a disadvantage on deadline day, as rival teams knew he was desperate and he lacked assets and leverage. As Ramona Shelburne noted, it’s entirely reasonable for the Lakers front office to challenge this team to figure it out instead of relinquishing 21-year old Talen Horton-Tucker and/or a future pick for marginal upgrades, considering LeBron and Davis pushed them to deplete their resources to acquire Westbrook.