Rob Pelinka

More On Anthony Davis-To-Lakers Trade Agreement

Just days after the NBA Finals and less than a week before the annual draft, the Pelicans and Lakers shook up the basketball world with one of the biggest blockbusters in league history. New Orleans agreed to trade disgruntled superstar Anthony Davis to the Lakers for guards Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart, forward Brandon Ingram and three first-round picks, including the No. 4 overall pick in this year’s draft.

We have more details and developments regarding the trade, which can’t be made official until next month.

  • The other two first-rounders the Pelicans will receive are a 9-30 protected pick in 2021 – which subsequently becomes unprotected in 2022 – and an unprotected pick in 2024. New Orleans will also have the right to swap unprotected first-rounders in 2o23 and will have the option to defer the 2024 pick until 2025, according to reports from Tim Bontemps of ESPN and Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter links).
  • The Pelicans are already receiving significant interest in the fourth overall pick, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.
  • Ingram is expected to get back on the court next month and be ready for training camp, according to Wojnarowski. He did not play after March 2 due to a blood clot in his right shoulder.
  • ESPN Jonathan Givony updated his mock draft in the aftermath of the deal, with Texas Tech shooting guard  Jarrett Culver going to New Orleans at No. 4, Vanderbilt guard Darius Garland heading to the Cavaliers at No. 5, North Carolina shooting guard  Coby White ticketed to the Suns at No. 6 and Virginia power forward  De’Andre Hunter winding up with the Bulls at No. 7 (Twitter link).
  • Former Lakers president Magic Johnson, who called GM Rob Pelinka a backstabber in a recent TV interview, praised his former front office partner after the deal. Johnson tweeted, “Great trade Rob Pelinka! Job well done.”
  • The Celtics’ chances of re-signing free-agent-to-be Kyrie Irving took a major hit with Davis heading to L.A. instead of Boston, Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated tweets.
  • New Orleans will have $18.8MM in cap space after the trade is finalized, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets.
  • LaVar Ball, Lonzo’s outspoken father, called the trade “the worst move the Lakers ever did in their life” and guarantees they won’t win another championship, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN tweets.

Pelicans Agree To Trade Anthony Davis To Lakers

The Pelicans have reached an agreement to trade All-Star big man Anthony Davis to the Lakers for guards Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart, forward Brandon Ingram and three first-round picks, including the No. 4 overall pick in this year’s draft, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

The rest of the Pelicans’ haul includes a 9-30 protected first-rounder in 2021, which becomes unprotected in 2022, and an unprotected first-rounder in 2024.

New Orleans will also have the right to swap unprotected first-rounders in 2o23 and will have the option to defer the 2024 pick until 2025, according to reports from Tim Bontemps of ESPN and Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter links).

The Lakers immediately become championship contenders with Davis joining forces with LeBron James. Davis’ agent Rich Paul, also James’ agent, had tried to steer trade talks toward the Lakers over the winter after Davis’ desire to be traded was made public. But Davis didn’t get his wish at the time.

Paul and Davis recently met with the Pelicans’ new top executive, David Griffin, who tried to convince Davis to rescind his trade request. Davis declined and expressed his desire to play long-term for either the Lakers or Knicks.

GM Rob Pelinka, who has been under fire after criticism from former Lakers president Magic Johnson, pulled off a major coup by winning the Davis sweepstakes over the Knicks and Celtics, among others. Los Angeles gave up plenty in the deal but didn’t have to include another talented big man, Kyle Kuzma.

Davis could sign an extension with the Lakers but still intends to test free agency next summer, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets.

The Lakers will have either $27.8MM or $32.5MM in cap room after the deal to pursue a high-level free agent, depending upon timing and Davis’ willingness to waive his $4MM trade bonus, ESPN salary cap expert Bobby Marks tweets.

The trade cannot be officially finalized until after the new league year begins in July. It may be even be completed as late as July 30 — newly-drafted players can be traded immediately without signing a rookie scale contract, but if they sign that contract, they aren’t eligible to be dealt for 30 days. Waiting those 30 days would be advantageous to the Lakers for cap-related reasons, as Marks notes (via Twitter).

The Lakers still don’t have quite enough cap room to max out a free agent like Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving or Kemba Walker but they’re close to it, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets. Naturally, one of those free agents might take a little less to form a superstar trio in Los Angeles or the Lakers could make other moves to clear more cap room. Walker will be the Lakers’ top free agent target, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets.

Boston refused to part with its top young player, forward Jayson Tatum, in trade talks with the Pelicans, Stein add in another tweet. That put the Lakers in the driver’s seat for Davis’ services.

With Ball and Hart joining Jrue Holiday, the Pelicans have greatly enhanced their backcourt. They now have the No. 1 and No. 4 picks in Thursday’s draft. It’s a slam dunk they’ll select Duke forward Zion Williamson with the top pick and theyll get another high-level prospect, unless they have another trade in the works. Williamson and Ingram should be a formidable duo at the forward spots and the Pelicans can now concentrate on bringing in another big man to make all the other pieces work.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lakers Rumors: Magic, Pelinka, R. Paul, L. Rambis, More

Shortly after Magic Johnson abruptly resigned as the Lakers‘ president of basketball operations in April, Sam Amick of The Athletic wrote about the “ESPN elephant in the room,” suggesting that there had been rumblings for much of the year that ESPN was working on a story that would be “extremely unflattering” for Johnson and would focus on his mistreatment of employees.

Johnson denied at the time that such a report had anything to do with his decision, admitting to reporters that he could be demanding, but insisting that he “never disrespected” anyone.

More than a month and a half after Johnson stepped down, it seems that ESPN report has finally surfaced. Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com published a fascinating, in-depth look at the Lakers today, citing team employees who said that Magic used “intimidation and bullying as a way of showing authority” during his two years as the head of basketball operations in L.A.

“He comes off to the fan base with the big love and the smile,” an ex-Lakers athletic training official told Holmes. “But he’s not — he’s a fear monger.”

Holmes’ many sources – which include several current and former Lakers staffers – described Johnson and GM Rob Pelinka as leaders who made major roster decisions unilaterally, berated staffers, and created a culture that marginalized many employees and generated fear among staffers — at least two employees suffered panic attacks, per Holmes.

“It’s f—-ng crazy over there,” one former Lakers star told confidants, according to Holmes.

Holmes’ story is packed with so many interesting details that it would be impossible to pass them all along without approaching his 6,000+ word count ourselves, so we recommend checking out the piece in full. Here are several of the highlights:

On Lakers’ roster moves:

  • Members of the basketball operations department and coaching staff told Holmes that Johnson and Pelinka completed many of last summer’s free agent signings after having sought little to no input from them. Some members of the organization learned about the moves through media reports.
  • “We all had the same reaction that the basketball world did, like what the f— are we doing?” one Lakers coaching staff member said, referring to a series of signings that included Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, Michael Beasley, and JaVale McGee. “Not only are we not getting shooting, but we’re also getting every basket-case left on the market.”
  • During the 2018 draft, the Lakers set up two “war rooms,” with Johnson and Pelinka in one and other front office executives and scouts in the second. Staff members in the second war room were anticipating the team would use its No. 25 pick on Villanova’s Omari Spellman, the top player left on their board. Instead, the club drafted Moritz Wagner, shocking scouts and other staff members, per Holmes.
  • Pelinka later told staffers that he had heard negatives about Spellman and spoke to Lakers player Josh Hart about them before deciding to pass on the Villanova forward. Some members of the organization told Holmes that the pick represented the kind of unilateral decision that the Lakers’ top executives made without looping in key figures who would typically be involved. “For him to covertly go to a player and go behind everybody’s else’s back, that’s the problem,” a coaching staff member said.

On Luke Walton and the head coaching search:

  • After being told by Johnson prior to the 2018/19 season not to worry if the Lakers got off to a slow start, Luke Walton was admonished by Magic two weeks into the season when the club had a 3-5 record. The Lakers’ head coach was confused about why the team had suddenly changed its message, but members of the staff later came to believe that LeBron James‘ agent Rich Paul played a role, as Holmes explains.
  • In November, Paul approached NBA commissioner Adam Silver at a lunch and complained about Walton, telling him that he believed Tyronn Lue – not Walton – was the right coach for the Lakers, sources tell Holmes. Paul also let it be known via back channels that he wasn’t pleased with Walton’s inconsistent lineups and his allotment of minutes, says Holmes.
  • After the Lakers moved on from Walton, they missed out on their top two head coaching targets – Lue and Monty Williams – before hiring Frank Vogel. Multiple staffers who spoke to Holmes said the process left the team in a state of “shock” and “confusion.”

On the Lakers’ handling of players:

  • Members of the organization had problems with the Lakers allowing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to continue playing during the 2017/18 season while he was serving a 25-day jail sentence for violating the terms of his DUI probation. The judge’s work-release rules allowed KCP to practice and play in-state games with the team, but staffers weren’t impressed with the decision, which they viewed as the Lakers trying to curry favor with agent Rich Paul, according to Holmes.
  • “Anybody [else] would have put him on personal leave or suspended him,” one coaching staff member said of the KCP decision, per Holmes. A front office executive added: “I had a major problem with that.”
  • Sources close to some specific Lakers players tell Holmes that those players’ trust in management had “all but evaporated” after the details of the team’s Anthony Davis proposals repeatedly leaked to reporters prior to the trade deadline. “Guys know there’s no trust there,” a Lakers coaching staff member told ESPN before the end of the season. “Guys know the new [administration] has completely bent over to the agent world and were overly sensitive to having these one-sided relationships with these guys where they kind of control our every move because we’re ‘big-game hunting.'”
  • Some players felt that LeBron was complicit in the handling of the Davis situation, given his connection to the Pelicans star through Paul, sources tell Holmes.

On Rob Pelinka:

  • Pelinka would often sit in on pregame and halftime coaches’ meetings, which is unusual for a GM, writes Holmes. “It’s weird from the player’s standpoint,” a coaching staff member told ESPN. “The players are not able to open up and speak freely, because you’ve got the guy in the room who supposedly controls your future, so why would you open up and be honest and confrontational when that might be what is required for that moment?”
  • Current and former staff members expressed serious concerns about Pelinka’s credibility and the flow of information in the franchise, says Holmes. “We think, more often than not, he’s not being truthful,” a coaching staff member said. “That goes throughout the organization.”
  • Despite the concerns about Pelinka, he has a strong backer in Linda Rambis, who has long been a major supporter and ally of the GM, according to Holmes. Rambis, a close friend of owner Jeanie Buss, has been referred to as the Lakers’ “shadow owner,” and one front office staffer says Rambis “loves” that role.

Lakers Notes: Pelinka, Johnson, Demps, Russell

Lakers GM Rob Pelinka said Magic Johnson‘s blistering comments about him were “surprising” and “disheartening,” Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times tweets. Johnson, who resigned as president of basketball operations shortly before the season ended, accused Pelinka on ESPN’s First Take of “backstabbing” him for telling people around the league he wasn’t working hard enough. Pelinka responded to the accusation during coach Frank Vogel‘s introductory press conference.

“They’re just simply not true,” Pelinka said. “I stand beside him. I stand with him as a colleague and a partner. I’ve always supported everything he’s done and will continue to.”

According to an ESPN report, Pelinka spoke to Johnson two days ago regarding the team landing the fourth pick in the draft lottery.

We have more on the Lakers:

  • Pelinka confirmed that the organization will not hire a president of basketball operations to replace Johnson, according to a post from ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk. Pelinka revealed that, in terms of decision-making, he consults with the basketball staff as well as senior adviser Kurt Rambis and then makes suggestions to owner Jeanie Buss.
  • Pelinka vows that the turmoil surrounding the organization won’t prevent it from building a championship team as soon as next season, ESPN’s Dave McMenanim writes. “I think if people take a look at where this franchise is right now, again we have a great coach, we have a high draft pick. We have a great young core, maybe one of the best in the league. We have a superstar on our team, and an open slot,” he said. “So I think people can look at this as an opportunity to win a championship possibly next year.”
  • Johnson blamed former Pelicans GM Dell Demps in the ESPN interview for leaking trade offers involving Anthony Davis prior to the trade deadline, Dan Feldman of NBC Sports relays. “I told Dell Demps, ‘Let’s just do it in private. What we offer, let’s keep it between us.’ Well, Dell didn’t do that. So, that’s how it got out,” Johnson said.
  • Johnson also said during the First Take interview that his decision to trade D’Angelo Russell to the Nets was directly related to the issues he had with former Lakers guard Nick Young, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News writes. Russell pranked Young by goading his teammate into admitting that he cheated on his former fiancé, recording star Iggy Azalea. Russell posted the recording on his private Snapchat account but it became public.

Magic Johnson Talks Pelinka, Lakers, Walton, Lue

Former Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson didn’t hold back during an appearance on ESPN’s First Take this morning, accusing general manager Rob Pelinka of “betrayal,” as Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com writes. Johnson made it clear that Pelinka was the person he was referring to when he spoke during his resignation announcement about “backstabbing” within the organization.

“I start hearing, ‘Magic, you are not working hard enough. Magic’s not in the office,'” Johnson said. “People around the Lakers office were telling me Rob was saying things, Rob Pelinka, and I didn’t like those things being said behind my back, that I wasn’t in the office enough. So I started getting calls from my friends outside of basketball saying those things now were said to them outside of basketball now, just not in the Lakers office anymore.”

According to Johnson, he was prepared to help groom Pelinka as his eventual replacement atop the Lakers’ front office, but felt as if the GM was angling for his job sooner, and ultimately decided he couldn’t work alongside someone he thought was trying to undercut him. Asked whether there were others in the front office he felt betrayed by, Johnson only identified Pelinka.

“Just Rob,” Johnson said. “Other people didn’t bother me… what happened was I wasn’t having fun coming to work anymore, especially when I got to work beside you, knowing that you want my position.”

Here’s more from Johnson’s eventful TV appearance:

  • In Magic’s view, there were too many cooks in the kitchen in the Lakers’ basketball operations department, writes Youngmisuk. Johnson specifically singled out president of business operations Tim Harris as an executive whose role and influence in basketball operations became outsized.
  • Harris became involved in the head coaching decision after Johnson and owner Jeanie Buss debated the merits of firing head coach Luke Walton, according to Magic. Johnson wanted to replace Walton, but Buss apparently wavered on giving him the go-ahead to do so, as Youngmisuk details. “We went back and forth like that and then she brought Tim Harris into the meeting. Some of the guys and Tim wanted to keep [Walton] because he was friends with him. I said when I looked up, I only really answer to Jeanie Buss,” Johnson said. “Now I got Tim involved. It’s time for me to go. I got things happening that were being said behind my back. I don’t have the power I thought I had to make decisions. And I told them, when it is not fun for me, when I think I don’t have the decision-making power I thought I had, I got to step aside.”
  • Johnson indicated that Tyronn Lue would have been his choice to replace Walton as the team’s new head coach (Twitter link via Clevis Murray of The Athletic).
  • Discussing the Lakers’ 2018 free agent decisions, Johnson said that the Lakers didn’t want to offer Julius Randle a contract longer than one year, adding that Randle may not have been a fit anyway if he had remained on the roster (Twitter link via Murray).

Lakers Won’t Hire Replacement For Magic Johnson

The Lakers will not hire a president of basketball operations to replace Magic Johnson, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne tweets.

GM Rob Pelinka will remain in his role and report directly to ownership, Shelburne adds. Pelinka had previously reported to Johnson.

Johnson stunned the franchise by resigning from his position last month without giving anyone in the organization prior notice. A report from ESPN earlier this week revealed that owner Jeanie BussPelinka, senior basketball adviser Kurt Rambis, and executive director for special projects Linda Rambis “operate as a group on basketball decisions.”

The Lakers just hired Frank Vogel as their new head coach after negotiations to bring in former Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue fell apart.

With Pelinka’s power seemingly growing, the pressure will be on the former agent to deliver stars via trades or free agency to play alongside LeBron James. The Lakers had good luck in the lottery earlier this week, moving up to the No. 4 pick.

Lakers Notes: No. 4 Pick, Cap Room, Kidd

The NBA’s new draft lottery format benefited the Lakers in a big way on Tuesday night. Under the old system, the lottery would have been complete once the first three picks were determined. This year though, one additional drawing was conducted, allowing the Lakers to defy the odds and move up all the way from No. 11 to No. 4. As Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com details, general manager Rob Pelinka was thrilled by the outcome.

“This is a powerful asset for us,” Pelinka said on a conference call. “We owe a commitment to our fans to have an outstanding season next year. What this does is it gives us the ability to either select an impact player at [No.] 4 or possibly use this as an extremely valuable asset in trade.”

While having a lottery pick just outside of the top 10 would have been useful for the Lakers, moving into the top five represents an “extraordinary shift” for the franchise, according to Pelinka.

“I mean, top-five picks in the draft, if you go back in the history and study them, those picks can alter and impact franchises,” Pelinka said. “This is a big moment for us. Last year, of course, we had to go through some hard and difficult things that this is certainly a great silver lining. Our dedication is really toward our fans right now and doing all we can to deliver a really special Lakers season for our fans.”

As we wait to see what the Lakers do with their pick, let’s round up a few more notes on the team…

  • The one downside of the Lakers’ move up to No. 4 is that the increased cap hold for the higher pick will cut into their projected space, tweets cap expert Larry Coon. Based on the NBA’s current projections, it also may affect the team’s ability to land a max free agent. Our updated cap digest shows the Lakers can create $32.5MM in projected room — the maximum salary for a free agent like Kyrie Irving or Jimmy Butler (with 7-9 years of experience) would be $32.7MM.
  • The Lakers don’t need to blow up their roster or their front office, but they’d benefit from adding some experience in both areas, according to Arash Markazi of The Los Angeles Times, who makes the case for why the team should hire an accomplished executive and add at least one or two veteran players this offseason.
  • The Lakers are asking for trouble by hiring Jason Kidd as an assistant coach, says Dylan Hernandez of The Los Angeles Times, arguing that the Kidd decision is the most baffling one the team has made in recent months.
  • Ohm Youngmisuk and Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com recently took a deep dive into the Lakers’ front office hierarchy to determine who has the most influence and who’s calling the shots. Sources tell ESPN that Jeanie Buss, Rob Pelinka, Kurt Rambis, and Linda Rambis “operate as a group on basketball decisions.”

Fallout From Failed Negotiations Between Lakers, Lue

Contract length was the main point of contention that prevented Tyronn Lue from becoming the Lakers’ next coach, tweets Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. L.A. was offering Lue $18MM over three years, which would line up with LeBron James‘ remaining commitment to the team. Lue was “insulted” that the Lakers viewed him as just a coach for LeBron and was seeking a five-year deal.

A source tells Shelburne that GM Rob Pelinka didn’t believe negotiations would collapse because Lue doesn’t have interest from any other teams (Twitter link). However, the Cavaliers still owe Lue about $10MM and he didn’t want to risk losing money by taking an offer that he considered below his market value. He also believes his experience coaching at a championship level warrants a longer commitment.

There’s more this morning on the Lue situation:

  • Talks also broke down because of the Lakers’ insistence on having the final say on Lue’s assistant coaches, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times. Lue was willing to make former Pacers and Magic head coach Frank Vogel his top assistant, sources tell Stein, but management wanted him to put Jason Kidd on the staff as well after he performed well in an interview. Stein also reports that two advisers to Lakers owner Jeanie Buss feared that the team would be giving James too much power by hiring Lue.
  • Former Lakers player Kurt Rambis, who now serves as an adviser, has expanded his power in the organization and is playing a critical role in the coaching search, relays Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
  • Buss made a mistake by letting Pelinka assume too much power after team president Magic Johnson resigned, contends Bill Oram of The Athletic. Lue was the only available candidate who has experience coaching James and was willing to sign up for another round, Oram notes, and Pelinka couldn’t get a deal done. He states that Buss should have found someone to serve as president of basketball operations and let him hire a GM and conduct the coaching search. Instead, she trusted the organization to Kobe Bryant‘s former agent.
  • The new coaching candidates — Vogel, Mike Woodson and Lionel Hollins, won’t inspire Lakers fans or help to satisfy James, who has just two years left before he can opt out of his contract, Oram adds. He also wonders how much ineptitude James is willing to put up with before he demands to be traded to a better-run organization.
  • Lue’s plans for the Lakers would have looked very similar to how he utilized James in Cleveland, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Lue believes LeBron is most effective in a structured offense where he has an order of options to follow depending on how the defense reacts. Under Luke Walton, the Lakers used more of a random approach where four players had the option to push the ball up court, while the others were instructed to fill lanes on the fast break. Lue told management he would have arranged the minutes for James and Brandon Ingram so that one was always on the court.

L.A. Notes: Pelinka, LeBron, Rivers, Lawsuit

All signs point to Rob Pelinka having full power to run the Lakers in the wake of Magic Johnson’s resignation, writes Sam Amick of The Athletic. Sources tell Amick that the team didn’t contact David Griffin, LeBron James‘ former GM in Cleveland, before he joined the Pelicans earlier this month. They also didn’t try to lure GM Bob Myers from the Warriors or consultant Jerry West from the Clippers.

Pelinka has orchestrated the coaching search ever since the team parted ways with Luke Walton, Amick adds. He identified Tyronn Lue, Monty Williams, Juwan Howard and Jason Kidd as candidates and organized their interviews.

Although Pelinka is running the show, the number of people with a voice in front office decisions has grown since Johnson left. In addition to Pelinka and owner Jeanie Buss, the interviews with Lue and Howard were attended by president of business operations Tim Harris, VP of research and development Joey Buss and assistant GM and director of scouting Jesse Buss.

There’s more today from L.A.:

  • James plans to stay out of personnel decisions and will trust Lakers management to assemble a playoff contender, Amick reports in the same story. LeBron bristles at suggestions that he serves as de facto GM wherever he goes and plans to stay out of the spotlight this summer. He released an Instagram video this week proclaiming his faith in the front office.
  • The Clippers‘ performance this year set a foundation for what could be a vastly improved roster next season, according to Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. Doc Rivers‘ team gained respect throughout the league by reaching the postseason after trading away leading scorer Tobias Harris in February. “When you are knocked out of the playoffs there’s obviously some times it’s a relief,” Rivers said. “And there are some times you just don’t want it to happen and last night was one of those points. Just the sense of disappointment — even though you know the group you had overachieved, you still don’t want it to end.”
  • A lawsuit contesting the Clippers‘ proposed new Inglewood arena is moving forward, reports Nathan Fenno of The Los Angeles Times. A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge has rejected an attempt to block the suit, which was filed by Uplift Inglewood, a community group dedicated to affordable housing.

Lakers Don’t Plan To Replace Magic Johnson

Lakers owner Jeanie Buss has no plans for now to hire a replacement for Magic Johnson, Tania Ganguli and Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times report.

Johnson blindsided the organization by stepping down as president of basketball operations two weeks ago. However, Johnson declared that he’s still playing an active role in organizational decisions.

“I love Jeanie,” Johnson said. “I’ve been talking to her almost every day. I’m trying to help. Listen, I may not be in there physically, but I’m still there.”

Johnson is still expected to help woo free agents this summer as the franchise seeks more star power to help LeBron James bring it back to prominence, according the L.A. Times story.

If the Lakers don’t replace Johnson, the power of GM Rob Pelinka will continue to grow. Pelinka is running the team’s search for a new head coach to replace Luke Walton, who was dismissed after the season. The Lakers have already met with former Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue and Sixers assistant Monty Williams. They’re expected to meet with Heat assistant and Pelinka’s former college teammate, Juwan Howard, on Tuesday.