Lakers Are Spiraling Toward Disaster by Backing Rob Pelinka

Despite the trade deadline passing nearly two weeks ago, the Los Angeles Lakers remain engulfed in rumors and potential internal conflict. General manager Rob Pelinka has attempted to cool the flames, but LeBron James‘ recent subtle comments have only amplified the chatter.

On top of that, the Lakers’ playoff hope sit in jeopardy, adding another layer of concern around the franchise’s future. However, Los Angeles may be making another massive mistake involving Pelinka that could lead James to depart.

Rich Paul denies Klutch Sports being unhappy with Rob Pelinka

Beyond LeBron James voicing that he isn’t closing the door on a return to the Cleveland Cavaliers and wanting to play his final NBA season with his son Bronny James, another storyline gained traction.

Bleacher Report’s longtime NBA writer Eric Pincus recently wrote that Rich Paul and Klutch Sports weren’t happy with Pelinka’s decision not to trade Russell Westbrook and a first-round pick to the Houston Rockets for John Wall. Paul didn’t take long to respond to the noise, conveying to Stephen A. Smith that Pincus’ report wasn’t the truth.

“Rich Paul called me yesterday and asked me to quote him on the story about him and Klutch Sports and essentially them wanting the Lakers to trade Russell Westbrook and a first-round pick to Houston for John Wall,” Smith said during ESPN’s “First Take” on Monday via The New York Post.

“He wanted me to state emphatically that there was absolutely, positively no truth to that whatsoever. He never did that. He did not do that.

“The people who wrote the story never contacted him to get any kind of perspective from him on that. It is an absolute lie and he said, ‘Could you please do me a favor and quote me and tell the world that I specifically said that’s a damn lie. It’s no truth. It never happened.’”

Paul may deny the report, but it’s hard to look past James’ remarks during the All-Star weekend that suggest internal frustration. Now the Lakers may be making another huge mistake that could disappoint the star forward more.

Lakers are setting themselves up for a colossal nightmare by backing Rob Pelinka

The Lakers’ struggles in the 2021-22 campaign have placed a greater spotlight on Rob Pelinka’s job status.

The decision to trade for Russell Westbrook has already come back to haunt the franchise. Los Angeles holds a 27-31 record sitting in the ninth spot in the Western Conference standings.

After experiencing a quiet trade deadline, Pelinka’s decision-making only draws more concern. James is frustrated with the situation to the point where he is reportedly eyeing significant roster changes next offseason.

The 18-time All-Star holds a solid relationship with Pelinka, but the franchise isn’t getting the job done with their current group. Much of that blame lies on the front office for not putting together a strong enough roster around James and Anthony Davis.

Despite all that, New York Times‘ Marc Stein is reporting that Pelinka holds “unwavering support” from ownership.

“James can seethe about the Lakers’ fruitless deadline all he wants, but it doesn’t make Pelinka’s hand any stronger,” Stein wrote via his SubStack. “It’s equally fair to wonder how much he’s alienating the Lakers in the process. Pelinka has the unwavering support of Lakers owner Jeanie Buss and is firmly entrenched as a pillar of the club’s four-pronged brain trust alongside Buss and the power couple of Kurt and Linda Rambis.”

In other words, Pelinka is firmly secure in his position. There is a legitimate chance that this could backfire in their face as the team isn’t maximizing James’ remaining window to compete for an NBA title. Pelinka’s decision-making, regardless of how much influence the star forward has, isn’t cutting it.

If the Lakers experience a disappointing offseason, that could push James to seek other options outside of Los Angeles.

Lakers need to undergo massive changes next offseason

The Lakers are less than two years removed from winning an NBA title, but it’s evident massive changes are needed.

If the franchise wants to keep Pelinka, he must do whatever it takes to reconfigure the team around James and Davis. Westbrook has shown that his playing style doesn’t fit alongside the two other stars.

Los Angeles will have to bite the bullet and move more draft assets to trade the nine-time All-Star. The team will be able to add future first-round selections in the summer to sweeten any potential deal. Management must also discuss Frank Vogel’s future as the team’s struggles suggest it may be time to part ways.

Ultimately, the Lakers have many issues to resolve next offseason and hold no margin error to fall short again.

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