EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- As the Los Angeles Lakers prepare for a potentially NBA-altering free agency, general manager Rob Pelinka fully understands that opposing teams will not be eager to help the Lakers build a potential super team.
"It's interesting because we knew we wanted to try to acquire another pick in the beginning of the second round, and as I said, we're in discussions on that, [but] we feel like we're going to be able to accomplish that," Pelinka said when asked whether the Lakers are encountering resistance from other teams in doing business during this pivotal offseason for the franchise. "So it's not like teams are saying, 'Oh, I'm not going to do a deal with the Lakers,' but I do think when you have 16 banners, there's going to be a natural envy from your competitors because you're sitting at the top of the food chain, but that's just life in general."
On Thursday, one Lakers source told ESPN's Ramona Shelburne that the San Antonio Spurs "basically shut the door on us" when the Lakers contacted the Spurs following multiple reports last week that Kawhi Leonard wants to be traded. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that no players were discussed and that there was no further dialogue between the two teams with talks not going far.
Pelinka did not want to address the talks, saying he wanted to respect other teams with which he has discussions. But the Lakers' GM did say that because of the franchise's past success, opposing teams won't be so quick to help the Lakers restore their glory.
"If you have success in any walk of life, you're going to face that," Pelinka said. "We don't really see that as a challenge, we just see it as a reality, but we also feel like because of the DNA shift here and because of the energy around our team and our young core and our cap flexibility, that players want to be here. So whether other teams want to participate in that or not, we can't control [that].
"But we can control the environment we have here and creating energy where great players want to be Lakers."
The Lakers were able to make a trade before the draft with the Philadelphia 76ers for the 39th overall pick in exchange for the Lakers' 2019 second-round pick via the Chicago Bulls and cash, according to Wojnarowski. That deal won't be announced until later due to a moratorium.
Still, the Lakers won't find teams eager to help them land two max stars when free agency begins July 1. The Lakers have positioned themselves to make a run at LeBron James and Paul George with the ability to create to max contract slots. They also have their own restricted free agent, Julius Randle, to worry about after determining whether they can land their star targets.
Leonard wants to be traded to Los Angeles, preferably to the Lakers, sources have told ESPN, leaving Pelinka and team president Magic Johnson in an enviable position of being a desired location for stars. But executing the Lakers' longtime goal of becoming a title contender this summer still will be no easy task.
"It feels like the last several weeks have just been a constant planning sessions, moving the chess board around with all the different options," Pelinka said. "And we won't rest until we get it right and I think that's just how Magic and I are built, the rest of our staff, to work until we just get it done. I think there's an incredible excitement to get to July 1 and to see what the options are."
The Lakers have said that if they do not land the max free agents they desire this summer, they will turn to the 2019 free agency and try to maintain their cap flexibility.
"We do feel like the road is a flexible road for us, if July 1 happens with one or two superstar players, great," Pelinka reiterated. "If it doesn't, we love this young core that we're developing and we know 2019 could present some amazing opportunities as well. So really any road we go down we're really confident in but obviously for Lakers fans we want to be good, we want to be back in the playoffs where Lakers deserve to be and competing for a championship."
"I'll personally feel a sense of urgency until we win a championship, I won't rest until then," Pelinka added. "That's just the way I'm built, and I know Magic's built the same way and Jeanie [Buss] ultimately, we don't compete to play games, we compete to win championships so there will be a sense of urgency until that's accomplished."