The Los Angeles Lakers introduced new forward Rui Hachimura on Tuesday and general manager Rob Pelinka teased that more trades could be on the way.
The Lakers revved up the trade market up ahead of the February 9 deadline with the move for Hachimiura, sending Kendrick Nunn and three second-round draft picks to the Wizards for the former No. 9 overall pick.
It was far from a blockbuster move, although that could still be on the way for the Lakers as they weigh what to do with their two coveted first-round picks.
“We’re canvassing the league on ways to get better,” Pelinka told reporters on Tuesday, January 24. “Doesn’t mean our work is finished. We are going to continue to monitor the situation with 29 other teams. Our job as a front office is to always look for ways to improve our team both now and in the future.”
Pelinka: ‘There’s No Resource We’ll Hold Onto’ for Right Deal
The championship-level expectations are different for the Lakers year in and year out, which Pelinka acknowledged. And it’s even more pressing with title-hungry 38-year-old LeBron James serving as the franchise’s centerpiece. Pelinka reiterated what he said prior to the season that the front office would be willing to give up their assets if they felt it could lead to a championship-caliber player.
“I think the calculus for the Lakers is to win a championship or not. There’s no in-between or incremental growth,” Pelinka said. “So as we analyze opportunities, we have to do it through that lens. And I said this at the beginning of the season, if there’s an opportunity to get all the way to the end and win a championship, there’s no resource we’ll hold onto if we feel like that’s there.”
Pelinka did also make it clear that the Lakers will exercise caution with any move, not wanting to strike at an inopportune time just to make a move.
“The completely unwise thing to do would be to shoot a bullet early and then not have it later when you have a better championship move to make,” Pelinka said. “So that’s a really delicate calculus. It’s something that the entire front office, we evaluate with all of the moves. If we see a move that puts as a frontrunner to get another championship, the 18th one here, we’ll make it. And if that move doesn’t present itself, we’ll be smart and make it at a later time.”
Lakers Remaining Patient With Deadline Approaching
The trade rumors have been constant for the Lakers this season, many of them involving Russell Westbrook, who is making over $47 million this season off the bench. Some names the Lakers have been legitimately linked to include Bojan Bogdanovic and Cam Reddish.
If the Lakers do make a move, it sounds like the voices of James and Anthony Davis will play into the final decision.
“Our captains LeBron and Anthony Davis are always involved in what coach Ham is doing and what the front office is doing. At the same time, LeBron said it really well at the press conference the other night when he said, ‘My job is to play basketball; the front office’s job is to do their job and build a roster and coach Ham’s job is to coach.’ I agree with that. We all have to do our job and do it with excellence and all be together. That’s how we operate and will continue to operate.”
In the meantime, the Lakers will try to integrate Hachimura into their system and Ham is “super duper excited” about him joining the rotation.