Rob Pelinka Rumors

Lakers don't know if Dwight Howard will join team

In a conference call on Tuesday, Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka said that Howard has not yet informed the team on if he will play or sit when the NBA resumes its season July 30 in Orlando. Melissa Rios, the mother of Howard’s 6-year-old son David, died on March 27 near her home in Calabasas, California, because of a seizure after fighting epilepsy. Amid protests the past month, begun after George Floyd died while in police custody in Minneapolis, Howard has said publicly he may sit out the season to help ongoing efforts to address racial inequality. “We are going to continue to work through those extenuating circumstances with Dwight, support him, support his 6-year-old son and hope for the best that he would be a part of our roster in Orlando,” Pelinka said. “But that will be a continued process.”
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Free-agent guard JR Smith, out of the NBA for two years, has emerged as a leading candidate to replace Avery Bradley on the Los Angeles Lakers’ roster for the season’s Orlando restart, sources told ESPN. Lakers president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka and Smith’s agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, were discussing a possible agreement Tuesday night and were expected to speak again Wednesday, sources said.
Storyline: JR Smith Free Agency
Lakers coach Frank Vogel and general manager Rob Pelinka also spoke on the call Tuesday. Team owner Jeanie Buss and Tim Harris, the president of business operations and chief operating officer, were part of the virtual conference as well. The meeting when for about an hour. “The Lakers did a great job letting their players have a voice,” one person said. “The Lakers understand what’s happening. They have always been about helping their community and that hasn’t stopped even now when the Lakers and others sports teams are needed the most.”
Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka and the team’s legal counsel lobbied Los Angeles health officials for help in getting the practice facility open in El Segundo, Calif., a source confirmed to The Athletic (first reported by ESPN). And the Lakers are hardly alone when it comes to lobbying efforts. Sources say all four of the league’s California teams (Lakers, Clippers, Warriors, Kings) are hoping to convince Governor Gavin Newsom to include them in “Stage 2” of his reopening plan, perhaps with the help of the mayors in their respective cities. As Newsom detailed via Twitter on Tuesday, that stage would include “gradually reopening some lower-risk workplaces with adaptations.”
“The in-person workouts and the combine and all of that type of stuff looks like it will be significantly impacted by COVID-19, but it doesn’t mean that the work stops,” Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said. “Our scouts are doing tons of film study. I’m doing tons of synergy, watching, studying guys overseas, studying guys here, and that work has to continue. We have to be as well-prepared as we can for when the draft occurs.”
Although Lakers players were placed into a 14-day, self-isolation period after two unnamed players tested positive for COVID-19 and the team continues to practice social distancing through the government-mandated April 30 time frame, it’s no surprise they’re trying to come together while being physically apart. “For the guys, we work hard with our strength and conditioning staff to make sure they have fitness bundles delivered to them where we can do Zoom workouts,” Rob Pelinka, the team’s vice president of basketball operations and general manager, said Wednesday on a conference call with reporters. “This is a team that just loved being together, whether it was on the bench, on the bus, in the locker room. These guys just have a great chemistry of being together. So they’ve tried to stay as connected as possible in the ways they can, working out together virtually.”
If returning to the court to salvage the 2019-20 season proves to be impossible, Pelinka said he will still feel some sense of accomplishment regarding the Lakers’ campaign. “It’s almost like I look at our season like a series of tests, and we got a lot of As. And we got some A-pluses and some A-minuses. And I think there has been a lot of success in that,” he said. “We haven’t had the chance to take a final exam yet. But that doesn’t mean we’re not going to celebrate the As that we’ve gotten so far.”

Each day as new directives from government health officials emerge, the reality of what society looks like changes. And so does the reality for the Lakers. That has prompted Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka and coach Frank Vogel to check in with each other every day, usually in the morning. Players have been asked to check in daily to update the team about their health. As a group they have periodic conference calls to determine their next steps.
Storyline: Coronavirus
Bryant was not an active player like Munson when he died, but he remained as synonymous with the Lakers as anyone who had ever worn the purple and gold. I asked Jackson, still a special adviser to the Yankees, for any counsel he would offer if a current Laker were to ask him. “You can’t,” Jackson said. “There’s no giving advice on this. It’s too emotional, too personal. It’s with you every day in L.A.” Jackson would say only that it’s “very important” for a team soaked in sorrow “to have a leader there.” For his Yankees, it was Murcer. For the Lakers, the pillars have been Coach Frank Vogel, General Manager Rob Pelinka (Bryant’s former agent and Gianna Bryant’s godfather) and LeBron.
Storyline: Gianna Bryant Death
Baseball agent Scott Boras told the Los Angeles Times he will honor Kobe Bryant’s wishes and create an internship for the late John Altobelli’s surviving 16-year-old daughter, Alexis. Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka opened his speech Monday at Kobe and Gianna Bryant’s public memorial service by sharing a story about the future Hall of Famer’s request.
While Bryant was texting Pelinka, he and his daughter were on the helicopter ride that would end their lives. Also on board were seven others, including John Altobelli, wife Keri and their younger daughter, 14-year-old Alyssa, who was Gianna Bryant’s teammate on the Mamba basketball team. “Kobe’s last human act was heroic,” Pelinka said. “He wanted to use his platform to bless and a shape a young girl’s future.”
Pelinka did not seem surprised with how Bryant transitioned from his NBA career. “I knew that Kobe’s life after basketball would be driven by one word – curiosity,” Pelinka wrote in an e-mail to USA TODAY Sports as part of an interview last month about Bryant’s post-NBA career. “Like most utter geniuses, Kobe has an insatiable desire to learn, grow and conquer. I knew that in whatever endeavor that manifested itself, Kobe would find incredible achievement.”
Pelinka has declined interviews. James has declined to talk in-depth about Bryant out of respect for his family. And Davis declined to answer how Pelinka has helped the team handle a difficult month. Accounts suggest, though, that Pelinka has become a source of comfort within the organization. “His way of helping is coming in and being positive every single day,” forward Avery Bradley told USA TODAY Sports. “With him being positive, it makes us a little happier. It helps us be comfortable about everything going on when we’re seeing a smile on Rob’s face.”
The tragic news of Kobe’s helicopter crash hit Pau while driving home and, as his wife noted to him, the big man’s face ‘went completely white’ at that moment. “I get home and just… started crying. It was hard to find words, I couldn’t talk to anyone for days. The only person I talked to was Robert (Pelinka). He was the first I had the strength to talk to, just to know what was going on, what happened and who else was there, how was Vanessa (Bryant), how were the kids. Basically, I didn’t leave the house,” Gasol said for LA Times.
Storyline: Kobe Bryant Death
The so-called “agent model” they are adopting, furthermore, has flopped (with Lon Babby in Phoenix and Arn Tellem in Detroit) as often as it has flourished (Bob Myers in Golden State and Rob Pelinka with the Los Angeles Lakers). The skeptics are also bound to point out that, as recently as last May, no one was looking to the Lakers for any sort of blueprint. LeBron James chose to sign with the Lakers as a free agent in July 2018 independent of anyone working for them — and they were a franchise in disarray, after Magic Johnson’s unforeseen resignation as team president in April, until Anthony Davis forced a trade to the Lakers to team up with James.
Through it all, a source said, the Lakers’ pursuit of roster changes in the past week was half-hearted. And that goes back to the tragic helicopter crash that took the life of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others on January 26, just 11 days ahead of the trade deadline. While much of the league has begun to move on from Bryant’s death, these Lakers are just in the early stages of that process. Going through the experience together has bonded them and it proved difficult to break that bond within the roster for the sake of some trade or another.