One aspect of the previous trade talks between the Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans involving Anthony Davis was the involvement of team president Magic Johnson. While someone in Johnson’s role getting involved in a trade conversation isn’t completely unheard of, the job would typically fall heavily on the general manager, or in this case, Rob Pelinka.
Apparently, the feeling of some outside the Lakers organization about Pelinka led to Magic having to handle the phones throughout the Davis talks often. Even beyond that, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith stated on First Take that people in the NBA “despise” Pelinka.
“Rob Pelinka, there are people in the league who despise him. To the point where I can’t even throw aside the word hate. They don’t talk about him glowingly, they have a real problem with him. They don’t like him. In some instances, they’ve been highly reluctant to take his phone calls which is why Magic had to be involved in terms of being on the phone particularly when it came to the issue involving Anthony Davis and the Pelicans.” Smith said.
The comments are eye-opening for a number of reasons, but specifically due to the fact that it could impact the Lakers’ pursuit of Davis this offseason as well as any other trades. It’s expected that Johnson, Pelinka and the Lakers front office will pick up where they left off this coming offseason in the pursuit of the Pelicans star.
Rob Pelinka’s Move Into an NBA Front Office
It’s easy to wonder if the feelings from some about Pelinka have to do with his previous role as both Kobe Bryant’s agent and the CEO of his own sports agency. Along with Bryant, Pelinka represented a number of high-profile players, including James Harden when he came out of Arizona State as the No. 3 pick in the 2009 NBA Draft.
Even as recently as 2016 Pelinka brought in some intriguing young talent to his agency,. As Ryan Aber of The Oklahoman revealed previously, this included current Sacramento Kings guard Buddy Hield.
Pelinka made the move to the Lakers front office as their general manager in February of 2017, replacing Mitch Kupchak in the process. As the team website detailed, the 49-year-old signed a five-year deal to step into the role.
Lakers’ Push to Acquire Anthony Davis
One of the biggest storylines of the 2018-19 NBA season was the trade request made by Davis, with the Lakers attempting to go all-in to land him shortly after. Rumors pointed to the team offering a deal with at least six players and two first round picks, which was obviously declined as New Orleans wanted more.
The chatter around the framework of this offer included Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, Ivica Zubac, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and two first-round picks. This was not confirmed by either side, but the Lakers made it very clear that they were willing to put a huge offer on the table to land Davis.
In the end, the Pelicans chose to wait until the offseason to deal their young star, and potentially talk with the Boston Celtics about a deal which may involve Jayson Tatum.