Lakers News: Paul Pierce Slams Lakers, Pelinka

Lakers News: Paul Pierce Slams Lakers, Pelinka

10-time All-Star small forward Paul Pierce, who spent 15 of his 19 NBA seasons with Lakers fans’ least-favorite basketball team, has weighed in on L.A.‘s multiple roster tear downs in the wake of team vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka.

Pierce took his Boston Celtics to two NBA Finals against Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and the rest of your Los Angeles Lakers, winning in 2008. The 6’7″ wing was named Finals MVP for his efforts, though the nominal best player on that team was 2008 Defensive Player of the Year honoree Kevin Garnett.

Yesterday, the Hall of Famer took to (where else?) Twitter to address Pelinka’s bizarre team-building approach since 2020. The entire Lakers roster has been completely turned over over the ensuing seasons, aside from All-Stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis. With most of the same players but also several nagging injuries, the club finished with the West’s No. 7 seed (but the No. 1 defense) in 2021, and may have even been able to pull off a first-round upset over the Phoenix Suns had Davis not gotten injured during their quarterfinals series. Pelinka then ditched several key role players to acquire Russell Westbrook, a terrible roster fit, in the 2021 offseason. L.A. finished with a 33-49 record and missed the playoffs entirely. James and Davis’s lone remaining 2020 championship teammate, Talen Horton-Tucker (along with newer role player Stanley Johnson), was dealt in the 2022 offseason for Patrick Beverley.

L.A. opted to extend Pelinka this summer through 2026. After presumably watching the disappointing output of every Laker not named Anthony Davis, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, or Kendrick Nunn in the team’s 2022-23 season opener, a 123-109 loss to the Warriors, Pierce reflected on the Pelinka deal.

Former Lakers head coach Frank Vogel, who led L.A. to its 17th NBA title during his first season on the team in 2019-20, was let go by Jeanie Buss and Pelinka at the end of the 2021-22 season. It’s hard to imagine even Phil Jackson squeezing a playoff appearance out of that sorry crew, given how many games James and Davis missed last year with injuries (26 and 42, respectively). The problem was Pelinka’s personnel decisions, not Vogel’s coaching.

Westbrook, on the other hand, has been much worse for L.A. than his numbers might suggest. His issues have been reiterated by this writer many a time, but just as a refresher, the 6’3″ vet has become one of the worst volume shooters in the league, and remains an uninterested defender and off-ball cutter.

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