As the Lakers shift into playoff gear, things behind the scenes are growing increasingly unstable.
Despite a rough performance from the team, Rob Pelinka refused to make any deals ahead of the deadline -- a move that reportedly strengthened the level of disconnect between Pelinka and LeBron's camp at Kluth Sports.
According to multiple NBA sources, Klutch is not happy with Pelinka. The sentiment has long percolated, but it reached a boil when Pelinka refused to trade Westbrook and a future first-round pick (likely 2027) for Houston Rockets guard and Klutch client John Wall.
The move didn't make sense for the Lakers from a basketball standpoint as a significant upgrade over Westbrook, even though Wall averaged 20.6 points and 6.9 assists per game last year. Wall hasn't played this season, with the Rockets focusing on developing younger players. From the Klutch point of view, the Lakers would get their client out of a bad situation in Houston and undo the Westbrook mistake.
While the validity of these rumors is being debated, nobody should hold their breath on Rob Pelinka leaving the franchise anytime soon. In fact, if given the choice, team owner Jeanie Buss may pick the well-regarded GM over LeBron James himself.
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.
The Lakers will be able to trade multiple future first-round picks in the summer, after they were limited to featuring a 2027 first-rounder in their recent trade offers. The problem: They still lack players other teams covet to package with those picks. James can seethe about the Lakers’ fruitless deadline all he wants, but it doesn’t make Pelinka’s hand any stronger.
This is an organization that has cut ties completely with Lakers icon Jerry West, who has a legit claim to Greatest Laker Ever status when you combine his playing achievements with his front-office work. James and agent Rich Paul, for all the perceived control they wield, are still outsiders when it comes to the Lakers’ power dynamics. If West can be cut off, rest assured LeBron can, too, if he can no longer lift the Lakers out of mediocrity.
The Lakers have been under the ownership of the Buss family for years now, and control falls under a select few.
After getting a recommendation from Kobe Bryant, Pelinka was brought on in 2017 and has earned the trust of those at the top.
Now, it will be up to him to make the best of this ugly situation and turn around a Lakers team that is falling apart at the seams. We will see if he's up for the task and if his position in the front office leads creates further tension with LeBron.