Lakers GM Rob Pelinka: 2018 Playoffs Show Young Players Can Be Difference-Makers

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Lakers GM Rob Pelinka: 2018 Playoffs Show Young Players Can Be Difference-Makers
Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka believes the Boston Celtics could indirectly help the Lakers land marquee free agents as the Celtics show a team can contend despite relying on a group of young stars.

Pelinka discussed his opinion during ESPN's coverage of the 2018 NBA draft combine (h/t RealGM):

"The playoffs, this year, I think have revealed young players can be difference makers. In fact, as the game gets faster and more athletic, you need that to compete in today's NBA. So, we feel like our young core is incredibly attractive. The other thing we've restored is just sort of the ethos of the Lakers. It had become a little bit stagnant. Free agents weren't looking at the Lakers as a destination. To use a metaphor, it became a little bit like Blackberry versus Apple."

The Lakers also shared a video of Pelinka's full interview:

While Pelinka's enthusiasm about the Lakers' future is understandable, there's a key distinction between Los Angeles and Boston.

When the Celtics signed Al Horford and made a significant push to get Kevin Durant in 2016, they were coming off a 48-win season and a second straight trip to the playoffs. Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving arrived after Boston reached the Eastern Conference Finals in 2017.

Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart ensure the Celtics have a bright outlook, but marquee free agents also know Boston can be a contender in the present.

The same can't be said of the Lakers, who haven't reached the postseason since 2013. A core of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma looks good on paper, but Los Angeles is coming off a 35-win season while relying on those players. The team finished 12 games off a playoff spot in the loaded Western Conference.

Making a free-agent pitch for a squad with the Lakers' playoff drought—regardless of what their future looks like—is a lot harder than for one that experienced Boston's recent success.

This offseason will be a good indicator of whether marquee free agents see the Lakers as a possible landing spot, something Pelinka noted hasn't been the case for a few years.

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