Four Reasons Why Los Angeles Lakers Are Now Making Smarter Decisions

7 min readFeb 23


The Rob Pelinka apology train can’t add enough cars to carry all the purple and gold fans who want on after Rob surprised everybody with a series of brilliant trades that transformed the Lakers into possible title contenders.

While the Lakers face a challenge just to make the playoffs, their new-look starting lineup and rotations after the trade deadline have already made them the extremely dangerous team nobody wants to meet in the playoffs.
Frankly, Pelinka surprised everybody with a masterclass in roster building, getting six quality players who are great fits next to LeBron and AD for one lightly protected first round pick and six players the Lakers didn’t want.

But the question everybody should be asking is what’s behind the Lakers’ suddenly making smarter decisions? Is it as simple as Rob learning from the Westbrook mistake or Jeanie allowing Rob to make the big decisions?
Were the trade deadline moves isolated transactions or do they represent major changes in the Lakers’ future basketball philosophy and strategy? What’s the real story behind the Lakers making smarter decisions?

How could the front office that traded Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell, and #22 pick in 2021 draft for Russell Westbrook and two second round picks suddenly start making smart decisions?
The answer is Rob and Jeanie learned, adjusted, and did a better job this time, prioritizing fit, depth, continuity, and versatility rather than a third star, resetting their LeBron calendar, and embracing the modern game.

Here are four reasons why the Lakers are now making smarter decisions: Rob’s learned from his mistakes, Jeanie’s given him full authority, they reset their LeBron calendar, and they embraced the modern game.

1. Pelinka Learned From Mistakes

Whether the mistake was lusting for a third superstar, ignoring the poor fit, or not standing up to your owner and superstars, trading for Westbrook would have cost any NBA general manager other than Rob Pelinka his job.

But instead of firing him, the Lakers gave Rob a 2-year extension in June of 2022 to sync his contract with Darvin Ham to allay any fears Ham had of the Lakers hiring a new GM who would then want to hire his own coach.
Frankly, that the Lakers gave Pelinka an extension in June 2022 but did not reveal that publicly until October suggests that Jeanie Buss did not blame Rob Pelinka for the Russell Westbrook trade and trusted him to fix it.

We know that James and Davis were initially behind the Lakers trade for Russell Westbrook and that Jeanie Buss has always loved Russ and vetoed trading him to Indiana for Myles Turner and Buddy Hield before camp.
It would not be surprising to eventually find out the Rob had not been in favor of trading for Westbrook, which was why Jeanie Buss doubled down and extended him as the Lakers’ Vice President of Basketball Operations.

Regardless, there’s universal praise for the job Rob Pelinka did completely remaking the Lakers roster with three precision trades that cost six players the Lakers no longer wanted and a lightly protected 2027 first round pick.
The Lakers received starting point guard D’Angelo Russell. shooting guard Malik Beasley, and small forward Jarred Vanderbilt, plus backup shooting guard Davon Reed, power forward Rui Hachimura, and center Mo Bamba.

Rob clearly learned from his mistakes. He refused to overpay in a trade for superstar Kyrie Irving and prioritized filling the Lakers desperate need for size, shooting, and defense while not sacrificing the franchise’s future.

2. Jeanie Gave Rob Full Authority

The best professional sports franchises have owners who, while reserving the final right of approval, hire professional front office executive teams to whom they delegate the job of decision making and running the franchise.

That was never the business management model Dr. Jerry Buss followed as he built the Los Angeles Lakers into a legendary sports franchise that had won a league best 17 NBA championships and was worth over $5 billion.
Jerry Buss was a hands-on visionary who made the franchise’s basketball as well as business decisions. His son Jim tried to follow his footsteps and won two NBA championships before being replaced by his sister Jeanie in 2017.

Jeanie has now been in charge of the Lakers for five years and has won one NBA championship. She has wavered being an active owner and visionary like her father and trusting and relying on a professional like Rob Pelinka.
Jeanie deserves kudos not only for signing Rob to an extension last summer but also for giving him the authority and power at the trade deadline to go out and do whatever he needed to transform the Lakers into a contender.

Jeanie Buss is not the hands-on visionary her father was or her brother tried to be but she‘s smart enough to know she needed a trusted basketball professional manager to be the visionary the Lakers desperately needed.
This is not the same NBA in which her father was able to win 11 titles in the 33 seasons he ran the team. The landscape is completely different both on and off of the court. This is no longer her father’s NBA or L.A. Lakers.

Jeanie Buss bet the future of the Lakers on Rob Pelinka and the ghost of Kobe Bryant by giving him the extension he deserved and the power and authority to set the Los Angeles Lakers on an exciting new directionless.

3. Lakers Reset LeBron Calendar

One of the biggest benefits of Rob Pelinka’s decision to wait until the trade deadline to move Westbrook was the Lakers were able to satisfy themselves that LeBron still had another 3 to 5 years of high quality basketball in him.

Once the Lakers felt comfortable James was not going to dramatically decline in the near future, they were able to reset their clock for finding a replacement for James, which clarified the Lakers rebuilding process.
Suddenly, the Lakers were looking for an extreme roster makeover not only to give then the size, shooting, and defense needed to be win this year but also to be legitimate championship contenders over the next 3 to 5 years.

There’s no question LeBron James has committed to the Los Angeles Lakers and plans to finish his career wearing purple and gold. His signing the 2-year extension was significant proof of his commitment to Lakers.
While the Lakers did show interest when superstar Kyrie Irving demanded a trade, it’s significant that Rob Pelinka ultimately ghosted the Nets when they suggested a counter offer that the Lakers would never accept.

Resetting the LeBron calendar reduced the immediate pressure on the Lakers to find a replacement for James and emboldened them to start the extreme roster makeover before the deadline and finish it this summer.
As the Lakers continued to grow more and more confident LeBron had multiple high caliber years remaining, their makeover plans became more and more aggressive as they worked multiple deals simultaneously.

In the end, resetting the LeBron clock changed everything for the Lakers. Suddenly, they could see a window of at least 3 and maybe 5 more years of LeBron playing at a high level, which changed their entire perspective.

4. Lakers Embrace Modern Game

After decades of old school GMs and coaches, the moves by the new-look Lakers are a final confirmation that the Los Angeles Lakers have wholly and unabashedly embraced the modern NBA and the power of the three.

Much of the Lakers’ struggles the past three seasons can be linked to their lack of vision or identity, which is what happens when ownership and management are more interested in a player’s star power than skillset.
That lack of direction or vision led to wheel spinning and poor decision making on whom to sign or pursue via trade, which led to a Lakers’ front office almost paralyzed with fear of making another disastrous mistake.

Basically, the modern NBA game is about spacing and shooting, both of which the Lakers have seriously lacked the past three seasons. This season the Lakers took the 24th and made the 29th fewest 3-pointers in the NBA.
With the addition of 2 of the league’s 15 highest volume 3-point shooters in D’Angelo Russell and Malik Beasley, the Lakers added significant 3-point gravity to their backcourt that should unleash superstars James and Davis.

In addition to adding Russell and Beasley, the Lakers brought in Jarred Vanderbilt to be their starting small forward and defensive specialist whose job would be to shut down or slow down the other team’s top scorer.
Finally, the Lakers traded for a pair of promising young 3&D front court players in Rui Hachimura to backup superstar power forward LeBron James and and Mo Bamba to backup superstar center Anthony Davis.

Embracing the modern NBA and its reliance on 3-point shooting to create spacing to unleash superstars has enabled the Lakers to make smarter decisions on whom to pursue and how to utilize them in modern game.

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Lakers fanatic since 1971 when team traded for Wilt Chamberlain. Founder, editor, and publisher of, a community for smart informed Lakers fans.