According to The Athletic’s Jovan Buha, Rob Pelinka seemed to hint that the team wasn’t able to find a deal that it liked for the No. 17 overall pick.
“After fielding calls and weighing potential trade offers with multiple teams, they ultimately valued the opportunity to select the guard out of Indiana University, who they had expected to go earlier in the draft,” Buha wrote. “He is their highest pick since they selected Lonzo Ball at No. 2 in 2017.
“Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka cryptically hinted that the team wasn’t able to find a deal it liked when he addressed the media afterward.”
Pelinka seemed pleased with the way the draft turned out for the Lakers, and he believes it found some value in taking Hood-Schifino at No. 17.
“I think the end goal, we talk about it all the time, is for us to put a championship-level product on the court,” Pelinka said. “… Sometimes you can’t make all of your moves in one fell swoop. But we’re really excited about the way the draft panned out. Just the value we were able to acquire with the two players. We’ll continue to have our mind on how we fill out the rest of the roster — or other moves that happen during free agency.”
The Lakers are in an interesting spot, as they made the Western Conference Finals last season after making a flurry of moves at the trade deadline to improve the roster.
With LeBron James aging, the Lakers’ window to contend for a championship may be dwindling, especially since James is only under contract for the 2023-24 season before his player option in the 2024-25 campaign.
The team still has several avenues to improve through free agency, whether it is by adding a new player by signing him, working a sign-and-trade or moving a player currently on the roster in a straight-up trade.
It makes sense that teams were interested in the No. 17 selection, but the Lakers clearly felt that taking Hood-Schifino was the best move for them. By doing that, Los Angeles could be getting a player that can help it beyond just the 2023-24 season.
Hood-Schifino was the Big Ten Rookie of the Year in his lone season with the Hoosiers, averaging 13.5 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game while shooting 41.7 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from beyond the arc.
The Lakers could use some guard depth on their roster with Austin Reaves (restricted), Dennis Schroder (unrestricted), D’Angelo Russell (unrestricted) and Lonnie Walker IV (unrestricted) all set to become free agents this offseason.
If the Lakers can’t retain all of those players, Hood-Schifino should have a great chance to compete for a spot in the rotation right away.
Los Angeles appears to be taking a patient approach to start the offseason as it looks to maximize James’ championship window.