When it comes to free agency in the NBA, giving yourself the salary cap space necessary to sign a player means nothing if you can’t convince them to join the team. For the Los Angeles Lakers, that is certainly some of the appeal in having Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka running the front office.
Magic is one of the most charismatic people in all of sports, and Pelinka has plenty of experience negotiating in a number of situations, not to mention his connections and knowledge from years as an agent.
The pair is certainly much different from the previous regime of Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss, and they are already gaining a positive view from the rest of the league. ESPN recently asked 48 NBA players who they heard gives the best pitches to free agents, and the Lakers, maybe somewhat surprisingly, ranked third:
Celtics: 27 percent
Heat: 15 percent
Lakers: 12 percent
Warriors: 9 percent
Other: 37 percent
Others gaining votes: Clippers, Grizzlies, Hornets, Knicks, Mavericks, Pacers, Rockets, Spurs, Wizards
The Lakers are in good company as the Boston Celtics, Miami Heat and Golden state Warriors have all made huge splashes in free agency in recent years. The Celtics convinced Al Horford and Gordon Hayward to join, while the Warriors got Kevin Durant to sign, and of course the Heat have Pat Riley who made the huge move of signing LeBron James and Chris Bosh.
Magic and Pelinka haven’t had the chance to make that kind of a splash yet, but the next two summers will be huge for the future of the team. LeBron James and Paul George are obviously the big targets this summer, and the likes of Klay Thompson and Kawhi Leonard could be available in 2019.
The Lakers’ pitches to free agents has been a point of contention in recent years as the previous regime failed to land a big star. The revamped front office hopes to change that, and apparently the word is already getting out.
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