Just over a month into his new job, Lakers GM Rob Pelinka joined assembled media members for a review of the season amidst his exit interviews with each player on the roster.
Below is a summary of the press conference:
– Pelinka said the Lakers are prepared to move forward whether they keep the top-three protected lottery pick or not. Clearly, they’d love to have the asset, but said they would “find a way,” and they “have a plan to get where they want to” regardless. Where they want to go, of course, is towards a championship.
– It’s Pelinka’s mandate that, if guys aren’t committed to excellent, “they won’t be here.” He said that message extends to himself and his staff. “The Lakers stand for excellence.”
– He added that there has to be a “desire from within” for these players, the young guys specifically, to keep getting better. Pelinka has already seen that energy and desire from several young players. He cited D’Angelo Russell’s stated desire to improve defensively, Julius Randle’s desire to turn his body into even more of a weapon, and Brandon Ingram’s demand of himself to grow physically and with his skills.
– Pelinka said they made it clear to Metta World Peace that he’d “always be welcome here,” that he’s “always going to be a big part of the Lakers.” In short, MWP shared that he’d still like to play, and the Lakers wanted to be honest that it was unlikely he’d return to the active roster next year. However, when he’s done playing, they’d love to have him in some capacity, whether in player development or as a coach.
– Pelinka has been looking at the entire front office and figuring out what roles to add people into. He gave one example with a “Wellness Coordinator,” who will be charged with overseeing the player’s sleep habits, nutrition and general health. He, Magic and Walton will continue that process as they fill out the entire staff.
– Pelinka, who was of course Kobe Bryant’s agent for many years, said Kobe’s been open to working with several young players, not just Ingram, who was specifically mentioned by Walton. Kobe was always trying to pick the brains of the best players as he came up in the league, and wants to be a resource for the young Lakers.
– Pelinka’s convinced that star free agents will absolutely want to play for the Lakers, that “you can feel the current shifting our way again.” He doesn’t know when and who, but thinks multiple star players will want to join what they’re building.