Shortly after Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka traded for Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans, it came out that the trade would be finalized on July 6.
At the time, it meant the Lakers would lose their available max-contract slot, a move that many in the media immediately slammed and criticized Pelinka for.
However, shortly after, the Lakers traded Moritz Wagner, Jemerrio Jones, and Isaac Bonga to the Washington Wizards as Davis waived his $4.1 million trade kicker to give the Lakers their max-contract slot back. It never truly seemed like the Lakers were worried about their cap situation, and it’s partially due to Pelinka’s knowledge.
As stated, many criticized Pelinka for his poor handling of the Lakers cap space in making the Davis trade, but a source within the organization said that he knew what he was doing the whole time and that rumors to the contrary were inherently false, according to Arash Markazi of Los Angeles Times:
The notion that Pelinka and the Lakers had no idea about the impact of the timing of the deal and only found out after seeing it on Twitter or television never made sense.
“Of all the stories out there,” said one Lakers official, “that’s easily the dumbest.”
There are many things in the first 2.5 years of Pelinka’s tenure that he could justifiably be criticized for. However, Pelinka’s knowledge of the mathematics of the game simply isn’t one of them.
The media quickly forgot that Pelinka was an agent for nearly 20 years and this time must have made him fully aware of the salary cap and how the league’s rules on money management work.
It was these skills as an agent that made him most qualified to take the Lakers job in the first place, beyond just being Kobe Bryant’s former agent.
And while Pelinka has done some questionable things — most notably his rocky relationship with former president of basketball operations Magic Johnson — he has proven in the last month or so that he is more than capable of doing what needs to be done.
Since Johnson stepped down, he replaced head coach Luke Walton with former Indiana Pacers head coach Frank Vogel, traded for Davis, and gave them a chance to sign Kawhi Leonard.