Team employees reportedly said Pelinka also had a habit of deflecting blame.

By Alaa Abdeldaiem
May 28, 2019

Multiple team staffers view Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka as "disingenuous" and "not being truthful," ESPN's Baxter Holmes reported on Tuesday.

According to Holmes, several members within the Lakers' organization believe Pelinka's storytelling habits were insincere. Pelinka, who was best known for representing Lakers legend Kobe Bryant before Los Angeles hired him as its general manager in 2017, reportedly even recounted a fake story about Bryant dining with Heath Ledger despite no such arrangement ever being made.

Staffers also accused Pelinka of "deflecting blame" and not taking "ownership or responsibility" when the Lakers drafted Mortiz Wagner over Omari Spellman in the 2018 NBA draft. According to Holmes, staff members were "shocked" when Wagner's name was called and were later told by Pelinka that Josh Hart, who had played at Villanova before Spellman, had concerns with Spellman.

After seeking out Hart for confirmation, staffers discovered that Hart had spoken with Pelinka for less than a minute and said Spellman had a great work ethic but some fitness concerns.

Holmes also noted that Pelinka sits in on pregame and halftime coaches' meetings at times, which is atypical for NBA general managers. One member of the Lakers' coaching staff noted it prevents players from speaking freely and was a point of contention with former Lakers head coach Luke Walton.

Pelinka pushed back by pointing out that Warriors general manager Bob Myers did the same, though sources within the Warriors' organization told ESPN that Myers does not sit in on the meetings.

"We think, more often than not, he's not being truthful," a coaching staff member said. "That goes throughout the organization."

Pelinka remains the Lakers' general manager but has taken public criticism as of late, including from former team president Magic Johnson. Last week, Johnson appeared on ESPN’s First Take where he said "backstabbing" by Pelinka was one of the reasons he abruptly resigned. 

In addition to Pelinka, Holmes' story also discusses how former president of basketball operations Magic Johnson used "intimidation and bullying as a way of showing authority" and how LeBron James's agent, Rich Paul, complained to Adam Silver about Walton.

Los Angeles fired Walton in April and hired former Pacers and Magic coach Frank Vogel in his place. The Lakers finished the 2018 season 37–45 and missed the playoffs for the sixth straight year. 

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