Los Angeles Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka took questions from reporters via conference call on Saturday morning to address the Russell Westbrook saga, the Lakers' busy trade deadline, D'Angelo Russell's growth, LeBron James' health, and more.

Here's a rundown of Pelinka's remarks.

On consulting with LeBron and AD

Pelinka said he did a “check-in” with LeBron and Anthony Davis before each transaction. The Lakers traded Westbrook, Damian Jones, and Juan Toscano-Anderson for Russell, Malik Beasley, and Jarred Vanderbilt, Patrick Beverley for Mo Bamba, and Thomas Bryant for Davon Reed.

How much influence LeBron (and Klutch, which includes AD) wields over the Lakers' front office has been a critical point of speculation since he arrived in Los Angeles. LeBron played a major role in orchestrating the blockbusters for Davis and Westbrook, though he has publicly distanced himself from the front office in recent months.

LeBron was appreciative that the Lakers took a swing at Kyrie Irving and worked aggressively to offload Russ and deepen the roster. (Pelinka refuted the idea that rival franchises, such as the Brooklyn Nets, are reluctant to collaborate with the Lakers.)

Pelinka irked LeBron and AD after last season's inert deadline by claiming that the stars were aligned with management. I doubt he'd make a similar claim again if it wasn't true.

On the Westbrook trade(s)

Pelinka admitted defeat on the Westbrook experiment, though he blamed the fit more so than the player.

“Our aspirations when we did the Westbrook trade was it would lead to a championship, a contending team. We didn’t meet that goal. So, you have to then look to pivot if something is not working to correct it. … I think it’s really unfair to put the last year and a half, or whatever period of time that is, on one player. I think the whole roster has to come together and fit.”

On the Lakers' big-picture thinking

Pelinka reiterated his statements from Rui Hachimura's introductory presser; the Lakers are always thinking about championships when they seek deals, especially while LeBron and AD are under contract.

“We were very mindful of the window we have with this team with our cornerstones of LeBron and Anthony Davis,” Pelinka said Saturday. “Our calculus around that has been binary. We’re on a championship road or we’re not.”

However, Pelinka rightfully emphasized that the reshuffling also sets up the Lakers for the future. He described the Lakers' deadline approach as “pre-agency”, noting that the Lakers acquired “five core players” under 26 — including three former-top 10 picks (Russell, Hachimura, Bamba) — who can easily be retained by the Lakers on tradable contracts.

“We showed this trade deadline a willingness to be very aggressive with our assets to make the team better and also plan for the future. I’m glad we were able to put actions to words.”
On D-Lo and the new faces

Pelinka believes the combination of Russell, Beasley, Vanderbilt, Beasley, Bamba, and Davon Reed makes the Lakers more athletic, versatile, and balanced.

“Going into the trade deadline, we really wanted to address shooting, spacing, and more wing depth and size,” he said, citing roster flaws that have been apparent since last summer.

Russell and Beasley are high-efficiency volume shooters, Vanderbilt is an elite rebounder and switchable frontcourt defender, while Bamba provides length, athleticism, and rim protection (and shoots about 40% from 3).

Echoing Russell's comments from Friday, Pelinka is confident the guard has matured since his up-and-down two-year stint with the Lakers after being drafted no. 2 overall as a 19-year-old in 2015.

“D’Angelo has shown a lot of growth since we’ve had him here.”

According to the GM, the Lakers see the 26-year-old as a potential long-term fit next to AD and LeBron due to his shooting, play-making/passing, and hoops IQ.

Pelinka said the Lakers will monitor the buyout market but will only make a signing if it fills an obvious need. The Lakers have one free roster spot.

On LeBron's health

Pelinka revealed that LeBron had imaging done on his lingering left ankle/foot soreness which “came back clean and good.” (Darvin Ham said Thursday the injury is a result of “wear-and-tear.”)

Unfortunately, Pelinka's hopeful update came minutes before the Lakers ruled out LeBron for Saturday night's game against the Golden State Warriors — and on the heels of Chris Haynes' report that LeBron is “severely struggling” with the injury and may have to deal with for the rest of the season.

With two games remaining until the All-Star break, it's fair to wonder if LeBron — who hasn't played since breaking the scoring record on Tuesday — will sit out through the hiatus, allowing him to rest until Feb. 23.