Lakers VP Rob Pelinka Breaks Silence on Quiet Trade Deadline

Rob Pelinka, Los Angeles Lakers

Getty Vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka of the Los Angeles Lakers.

The NBA trade deadline came and went with the Los Angeles Lakers not making any move despite the numerous rumors leading up to the moment.

“My job is always to look for ways to upgrade our roster, but you can’t buy a house that’s not for sale,” Lakers general manager and vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka told reporters via Lakers Nation before they lost at home against defending champion Denver Nuggets.

The Lakers played shorthanded with D’Angelo Russell, the player who was at the center of trade rumors before Thursday’s February 8 trade deadline, out with a knee injury.

Then in the second quarter, the Lakers lost Max Christie to an ankle injury. Christie joined Russell, Cam Reddish (ankle), Gabe Vincent (knee) and Jarred Vanderbilt (foot) on the sidelines as they watched the Lakers fall short against the Nuggets 114-106 a few hours after the February 8 trade deadline passed by.

It was the same problem that was keeping the Lakers from getting to where they wanted to be. But they did not budge at the trade deadline to bolster their depth nor upgrade their roster.

“The right move wasn’t there, and it’s a thoughtful and tricky calculus at times. … We didn’t want to shoot a small bullet now that would only lead to very marginal improvement at the expense of making a much bigger and more impactful movement potentially in June and July,” Pelinka said.

More Ammunition in the Offseason

Limited with only one first-round pick and a couple of pick swaps, plus Russell whose value is far greater with the Lakers than with the rest of the league, Pelinka did not have a shot at a tepid market.

“We tried everything we could, and the market is the market. There were very, very few sellers,” Pelinka said.

The Lakers decided standing pat rather than making a trade just for the sake of making a move is not wise especially when the NBA Draft in June comes along, they will have access to 3 first-round picks to offer for a star trade.

New Season, Same Old Story for Lakers

Despite being shorthanded, the gutsy Lakers played the Nuggets toe to toe until they lost steam down the stretch. It was just like a rewind of last season’s Western Conference Finals.

Lakers guard Austin Reaves tied the game for the final time with a 3-pointer 104-104 with 2:18 left. The Nuggets, playing with the poise of a champion, answered with a 10-2 finishing run.

Lakers coach Darvin Ham refused to dwell on the past, adamantly saying he wasn’t thinking about last season’s close sweep to the Nuggets.

“It’s a whole new world, whole new everything, whole new season, whole new time of the year,” Ham told reporters after the loss. “Like what happened last year happened last year. We ain’t worried about that. We’re trying to be the best team we can be right now in the moment, in the here and now.”

But they couldn’t reach their best version with their injuries. The hope is to get everyone healthy, including Vincent, their top free agent signing, when mid-March comes along when games bear more stakes.

A few hours after they stood pat, they sized up the defending champions. And even with a shorthanded roster, they stood shoulder to shoulder.

They were almost there.

But almost isn’t quite good enough. It doesn’t count in the win column.

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