LeBron James showered Sam Presti with high praises during the All-Star weekend. Some saw it as a stamp of approval should the Lakers owners decide to change front office personnel; however, LeBron's agent Rich Paul quashed the rumors after setting the record straight with Rob Pelinka and Jeanie Buss.
James frustrated with Pelinka?
The Lakers roster remained the same after the trade deadline. The team had a chance to tinker with their lineup, but the front office put its foot down, basically saying the players need to find a way to win. After all, the team's composition was approved by LeBron James.
At 27-32 and 9th in the West, there’s little hope for things to improve for the Lakers fans. Anthony Davis remains out due to injury, and James, despite his efforts, is not enough to carry L.A. to the promised land. If the Lakers fail to make the postseason or make a deep run in the playoffs, changes will be made in the summer as expected from a LeBron James team. A name’s been floated around, and he’s not even a player: Rob Pelinka.
LeBron gave props to Sam Presti and how he managed to amass draft picks for the Oklahoma City Thunder in one of his interviews during the All-Star.
“The MVP over there is Sam Presti. He the MVP. I mean, Josh Giddey is great, but Sam Presti — I don't understand this guy's eye for talent. He drafted KD, Russ, Jeff Green, Serge Ibaka, Reggie Jackson, Josh Giddey and the list goes on and on and on.”
LeBron James, via Ben Golliver
It didn’t help that an unnamed NBA GM from the Eastern Conference claimed he’s heard LBJ wants Presti to replace Pelinka.
"I heard that he was trying to get Sam Presti in there to replace Rob. I don’t see that happening, but I could see him trying to get Pelinka out of there."
Unnamed Eastern Conference GM, Fox Sports
As with unnamed sources, this information should be taken with a grain of salt. However, you can’t fault fans for seeing the connection between the Lakers’ disappointing performance and James praising other teams’ GM. Rich Paul, a close friend, and agent of The King quashed the rumors before they got out of control.
Rich Paul met with Jeanie Buss and Rob Pelinka
Paul reportedly met with the Lakers’ top brass to communicate his client’s desire to stay with the team. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the meeting was about James’ intention to remain with the Lakers, finish the season strong and regroup in the offseason and try to improve.
The fans and the front office could be heard heaving a sigh of relief after this update, for now. Basketball is still a business, and James is one of the most business-savvy players ever. We all know LeBron's thinking about the future - which team could give him the highest chance of winning a title or making his dream to play with son Bronny a reality?
Would getting Presti as the next GM give James the best chance to reach those goals? Even if Paul claims LeBron intends to stay, stranger things have happened in the NBA. James is staying put right now, but we all know changes are bound to happen sooner than later.