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Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka didn’t want to focus on Magic Johnson’s comments or focus on the past. He just wanted to talk about the future.
And when it comes to the future, Pelinka things if he builds it, they will come. Or more accurately, Pelinka thinks free agents should come just because they will see the Lakers are committed to building a winner — right away.
“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,” Pelinka told reporters at coach Frank Vogel’s introductory press conference. “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.
“So I think people can look at this as an opportunity to win a championship possibly next year.”
When Pelinka talked about a great coach, he was talking about Vogel, who will be assisted by Jason Kidd. Vogel did indeed do a nice job with the Indiana Pacers earlier this decade, directing them to two trips to the Eastern Conference finals. Things didn’t go quite so well with the Orlando Magic after that.
Anyway, when Pelinks talked about the Lakers’ superstar, he was referring to LeBron James. There is no doubt James is still great. But he will also be 35-years old at the start of the New Year. It’s hard to know how much he has left. Then again, with a top-notch free agent to help bear some of the burden, the answer may be a lot.
And when Pelinka talks about a high draft pick, he’s referring to the No. 4 overall selection in next month’s draft. So that is not up for debate. The Lakers should get a quality young player — or perhaps even be able to use the pick as part of a trade package for another star. (Anthony Davis, anyone?)
Meanwhile, Pelinka didn’t have much to say about Johnson’s earlier sentiments on ESPN that Pelinka was part of the reason Johnson decided to step down as the Lakers’ head of basketball operations — a distinction now held by Pelinka.
“We know the characteristics and qualities we stand for,” Pelinka said. “And we know as a staff and feel very strongly that if people judge and evaluate us for who we are as an organization and the vision and path we have going forward, we feel there will be a very, very strong appeal for the great players to come here.”