The Los Angeles Lakers have received a lot of criticism for not using their future draft picks to move Russell Westbrook, despite interest from the Indiana Pacers. However, many factors come into play when deciding the organization's future. Given the decision to retain the picks and Westbrook, the front office might have a few moves up its sleeve.
The Lakers' bargaining chips
Future draft picks have a lot of power in trade negotiations, and the Lakers' vice-president of operations, Rob Pelinka, is aware of this. Amidst a promising outlook with Anthony Davis' return and defensively strong additions, the Lakers look different from last season.
However, on media day, Pelinka made it clear that he would be willing to trade the said draft picks for the right deal – to make the team more competitive. With the speculation rampant around the draft picks, NBA analyst Ohm Youngmisuk shed light on what Pelinka may be thinking.
"I feel like Rob is going to wait and see what the Lakers do. I think he wants to see like, you know, if we get out to a big start and come December Lakers are doing like, you know, 10 games above .500 or something like that. And we look like we're in the contention, then maybe we make that move," Youngmisuk said on ESPN's 'That's OD.'
"All of a sudden if we [Lakers] get close to February and we're in the thick of this, and we look like we could win it - LeBron looks great, AD is playing like a top 5 guy, yeah we're in now, we're putting the chips in," he added.
LeBron James' energy crucial for the Lakers
The followers of a franchise like the Los Angeles Lakers demand a certain level of greatness that was lacking in the previous season. Last season brought their struggles to light many times, and the media overanalyzed every reaction to a degree where it led to some animosity within the locker room. The players not only had to navigate their struggles but the backlash from fans and media as well – in a respectful manner.
"So many people take their cues from LeBron James' energy when he is in an organization. And that is the kind of double-edged sword of being the guy," Dave McMenamin said on 'That's OD.'
Given the level of coverage a team like the Lakers receives, it will be crucial for LeBron James to maintain his composure.