After landing point guard Lonzo Ball with the second pick of the NBA Draft last week, Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka joined The Herd and opened up on the visit to Ball's home that helped cement the Lakers' decision.
Rob Pelinka on what it's like inside the Lakers' draft room
Colin Cowherd: “This was you first time as a GM. What was it like being in the room?”
Rob Pelinka: “It was amazing. It was kind of like speed chess, because everything’s happening so fast and in real-time. You’ve got four war room lines with calls coming in, you’ve got your own cell phone buzzing. So it’s trying to manage all the different iterations of trades. The great thing is we have a really strong front-office team, and a lot of the preparation that went into the night was kind of predicting what hypotheticals might come our way, and having answers to the questions before they even came. It worked out really well.”
Gary A. VasquezGary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Rob Pelinka on why Lonzo Ball is a generational talent
Colin Cowherd: “Lonzo Ball - and I said this about Magic Johnson - when you do these individual workouts, Lonzo and Magic are not built for individual workouts.
Penny Hardaway, Michael Jordan. There’s certain guys that jump out of the gym. Was there a moment watching Lonzo’s personal workout where you have to reconcile ‘OK, we know we like him, but he’s not a 42-inch vertical, he’s not a tomahawk jam guy.’ Were the workouts unique?”
Rob Pelinka: “You know, I’m a person of metaphors sometimes, and I said to Magic after Lonzo came in for his workout, I said ‘watching Lonzo Ball in a 1-on-0 workout would be like looking at Van Gogh paintings where all he could use is a pencil.’ And I kind of mean that.
His artistry and his gift is clearly… he has this transcendent gift to see the floor and pass and put the ball on a dime like Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady and quarterbacks come to mind. You can just see a gift that they do things that other players can’t do. We just feel like a talent like that is something that maybe you see every 10 years in the draft, and that’s why we were so attracted to him becoming a part of the Lakers and really helping us transform the way we play.”
Kelvin KuoKelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Rob Pelinka on the dynamics of the Ball family
Colin Cowherd: “Could I make the argument that because he’s been dealing with his dad’s noise, and because he’s been a star since he was a junior in high school, that Lonzo’s actually uniquely qualified for the fishbowl that is the Lakers? And the magnitude of the job?”
Rob Pelinka: “No question, I think it’s a good point. You know, one of the things that really brought us to clarity on making this decision is a few days ago we spent some time in Chino Hills. Magic and I traveled out there and we kind of watched the day. We wanted [to know] ‘what is this family about?’
It started at 8 a.m. with literally some hill runs, and LaVar had about 20 neighborhood kids there. And what was incredible to Magic and I was he knew every kid’s name, he knew every kid’s characteristics - how to coach them, how to drive them - and he really treated Lonzo and his two brothers the same as every other 21 of those kids.
We went from the hill runs into the family garage where they’re transformed it into a weight room, everybody’s working out. Then there’s a breakfast where LaVar is cooking and doing the dishes. So you just… you get a sense that there’s a genuine commitment to family and hard work. The way they care for their mom, Tina, who’s had some medical things come up. It was just a day where you left and you’re like ‘wow, this is a really impressive family.’ I think Lonzo Ball’s got those characteristics instilled in him.