Rob Pelinka says Lakers’ work is far from done after landing LeBron James

Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka reads a quote from "The Alchemist" during a news conference Wednesday in El Segundo.
Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka reads a quote from “The Alchemist” during a news conference Wednesday in El Segundo.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Rob Pelinka began his news conference Wednesday in El Segundo by connecting the two greatest players with whom he has worked with a book: “The Alchemist,” by Paulo Coelho.

“LeBron James was actually carrying a copy of the book with him throughout the playoffs,” the Lakers general manager said. “And ironically before I took the job to be the general manager of the Lakers, Kobe [Bryant] had given me this book and said, ‘Hey, you are going to go on an interesting journey there, why don’t you read it.’”

Pelinka put on reading glasses and opened the book.

“But the young boy was able to understand one thing: making a decision was only the beginning of things,” Pelinka read. “When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places that he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision.”

Pelinka put down the book and took off the glasses.

“I think I said in the press release yesterday that the work is not done by any stretch of the imagination,” he said. “We are on a journey, towards bringing the 17th banner to the Los Angeles Lakers and we know we still have work to do to get there.”

In his first public comments since signing James to a four-year deal worth $153.3 million, Pelinka stressed the future more than the present. He talked about continuing to save salary-cap space for the summer of 2019 and about James’ desire not to celebrate just his signing.


“It’s the ultimate validation for a player like LeBron to choose to come here,” Pelinka said. “So that is a celebration. Just not an ultimate celebration.”

After signing James, the Lakers added players who don’t fit the mold of the teams on which James played. After an offseason during which they focused on improving their shooting, they didn’t sign any players who specialize in that.

Pelinka believes the Lakers will be better shooters next season because they have added players who can create better shots for their teammates.

More than that, though, Pelinka talked about creating a team that could beat the two-time defending-champion Golden State Warriors without trying to mimic them. The Lakers added Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee and Lance Stephenson, all known for their toughness on defense.

What exactly the team will look like remains to be seen.

“LeBron James is going to be a starter, no breaking news there, but the other four spots, it’s going to be an open training camp decision,” Pelinka said. “And I think that’s good for everyone on our team because it’s getting them in the mindset to train hard this summer.”

Moe Wagner is out of Summer League

Lakers center Moe Wagner bruised his left knee during Tuesday night’s Las Vegas Summer League game against the New York Knicks. An MRI exam Wednesday confirmed the extent of the injury and Wagner will sit out the rest of the games.

The Lakers will play at least two more games in Las Vegas. They will take on the Clippers at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday. If they win, they’ll play in the tournament’s quarterfinals Sunday. If they lose, they’ll play a consolation game Friday.

The Lakers are undefeated after beating the Philadelphia 76ers, Chicago Bulls and the Knicks. Wagner has averaged 10.3 points, eight rebounds and one assist per game.

He suffered the injury in the second quarter but returned to play. He aggravated the injury and left for good.

The Lakers drafted Wagner, who played at the University of Michigan, with the 25th pick in the draft, which they acquired in the trade that sent Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli


7:45 p.m.: This article has been updated with more details of the news conference and with news of Moe Wagner’s injury.

This article was originally published at 12:25 p.m.