On Saturday, Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes reported that the Lakers and VP of Basketball Operations Rob Pelinka agreed to a four-year extension, aligning his deal with that of head coach Darvin Ham’s.
In an offseason of one bad story to another, fans were divided over the news. Some claimed that it was well-deserved despite the blunders. Others cited the last two offseasons as prime reasons why he didn’t deserve the new deal.
So, did Rob Pelinka really earn his new payday? Or should he have been left to ride out this season?
Did Rob Pelinka Deserve an Extension?
How we got here
Following the Lakers’ latest championship in 2020, the team had been poised for a repeat year with an intact roster. Fast forward to a weird season during the pandemic, where a multitude of reasons–injuries included–prevented the team from reaching its full potential. Then came the dividing line: the 2021 offseason.
Pelinka shocked the NBA and pulled off a deal for Russell Westbrook. He and the rest of the Lakers brass proceeded to retool the rest of the roster, including letting go of fan-favorite Alex Caruso over luxury tax reasons. This cluster of moves was enough for most fans to immediately go against the Lakers front office. The pressure was on them and the rest of the roster to deliver big time.
Of course, we all know how that turned out: utter failure, which brings us to where we are now.
The Lakers added some young legs, reunited with familiar faces, and added some tough guys to the roster in hopes of a redemption season. But to fans, it is still not enough. In a summer that was supposed to see Westbrook moved to another team, he’s still here, much to the “delight” of Laker Faithful across the world.
So, did he deserve it?
Judging by everything that has gone on during his tenure, I do not believe Pelinka deserved this extension. Yes, I am grateful for his efforts in helping construct the 2020 title team. However, that was two years ago, and he has done nothing to build on that success since then. If anything, he’s broken it down—almost to the point of no return.
Of course, Pelinka had the power time and time again to make improvements to the roster, and he simply did not. If he exercised it fully, maybe he would have swayed Sean Marks to trade Kyrie Irving to the Lakers. Maybe he would have bit the bullet and traded those “precious” first-round picks for Buddy Hield and Myles Turner by now. Maybe this, maybe that. As of right now, it’s all in the rearview mirror.
Keep in mind, he has four seasons to redeem himself. But to Lakers fans, he only has one—maybe less. It’s also important to remember that, by all accounts, LeBron James and Anthony Davis still back the organization and are also tied with the team until 2025. Who knows? Maybe this Westbrook situation works itself and Pelinka was right to trade for him all along. Perhaps he makes a trade down the line that catapults the Lakers to contender status. We cannot predict the future, no matter how hard we try, but it’s worth a shot.
Nonetheless, the pressure is all on Rob. We’ll wait and see if he rises up to the challenge and if his Mamba Mentality is enough to lift the Lakers out of the hole he (mostly) dug them into.