Rob Pelinka Answers Tough Questions in Imaginary Interview with LakerTom

Have you ever wished NBA GMs would just say what they mean? Between cryptic comments, posturing, and intentional misinformation, the Lakers have succeeded in convincing everybody what they’re not going to do.

They‘re not going to take back more salary than they send out in a trade. They’re not going to take back multi-year contracts. They’re not going to give up two picks unless it makes them a true championship contender. What the Lakers do not tell you is what they’re going to do with respect to Russell Westbrook. Unlike the situation with Kevin Durant in Brooklyn, don’t expect the Lakers to make a formal announcement about Russ.

Let’s take quick trip to the multiverse and alternative world where NBA front office executives must answer all media and fan question directly and honestly in this secret imaginary interview of Rob Pelinka by LakerTom.

LakerTom: “What are the Lakers going to do with Russell Westbrook and when can we expect something to happen?”

Rob Pelinka: “We’ve been trying to trade Westbrook but teams aren’t going to make their best offer until we’re close to training camp, which is when we expect to be able to consummate an acceptable deal to trade him.”

LakerTom: “You’ve said don’t want to bring back more salary than you send out in any Russell Westbrook trade to avoid the progressive luxury taxes that would come with a salary increase. How set is that position as it keeps the Lakers from bringing back 125% of what they send out, which usually means a better player.”

Rob Pelinka: “The Lakers paid over $45 million in luxury taxes last season. This season were projected as of now to pay around $33 million. That leaves us with some room to take on more salary in a Westbrook trade. Jeanie Buss realizes today’s NBA is a lot different from her father’s NBA. The Lakers are committed to doing whatever they must to continue to compete to win championships.

LakerTom: “You’ve said you would not give up both available first round picks unless it made the Lakers a legitimate championship contender. With Kyrie no longer available, is there any acceptable trade that would warrant two picks?”

Rob Pelinka: “First, Kyrie was probably the only trade that could conceivably made the Lakers a legitimate championship contender. However, that doesn’t mean the Lakers won’t give up two picks to significantly improve the team. The difference is the two picks have to be used for players who fit AD’s timeline.”

LakerTom: “The Lakers’ current roster appears to be an unfinished product that desperately needs 3-point shooting and better depth and backups behind forwards LeBron James and Anthony Davis that could only come from trading Westbrook. Are the Lakers serious about bringing back Russell Westbrook?”

Rob Pelinka: “Frankly, the last thing in the world we want to do is run it back with Westbrook. Fortunately, we’re confident we can find multiple trades that offer a better outcome than bringing back Russ. We’re just waiting for teams to get to the point where they’re ready to make their best offer.”

“We knew when we started rebuilding the roster this offseason, that the only way we were going to be able to get elite volume 3-point shooters and invaluable 3&D wings we needed was by trading Russ. Those kinds of players simply aren’t available as minimum salary players. This was all part of our original plan.”

LakerTom: “We keep hearing rumors about the Lakers being unwilling to take back anything but expiring contracts in Westbrook trade so that they can keep the $35 million they’re projected to have in cap space next summer to pursue Kyrie. How important is cap space for next summer to chase Kyrie Irving?”

Rob Pelinka: “While we do have a goal of having as much cap space as possible to pursue free agents next summer, we would like to limit any contracts coming back to a maximum of two years so they matchup with LeBron’s and AD’s deals. Fortunately, the top two players the Lakers are targeting — Myles Turner and Bojan Bogdanovic — are both on expiring contracts so in a perfect world, we would love to be able to have as much open cap space as possible.”

“Finally, you have to remember that we are not going to trade two very valuable first round draft picks along with Westbrook for two or three legitimate starters or rotation players unless we’re able and willing to re-sign them to an extension. One of the reasons why we want to trade Westbrook this offseason is we need the starters and rotation players we can get back for him. They’re not only critical to completing this roster but also to serve if needed as trading chips at the deadline.”

LakerTom: “What is your thought about whether a superstar big three or a superstar big two with a deeper more talented roster is the better path to another Lakers’ championship? And would the Lakers be interested in a midseason trade before the deadline that sent Turner and Hield to Brooklyn for Kyrie Irving?”

Rob Pelinka: “The general answer to your question is it depends on the superstars and how they fit. The specific answer to your question is yes, we would love to trade Turner and Hield for Kyrie Irving at the trade deadline. In fact, the Nets’ coveting of Turner is one of our reasons for wanting to trade for him now.”

If you enjoyed this article and want to share your ideas and comments with other Lakers fans, please join us at Lakerholics.Com.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store


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