Lakers GM aiming to keep 'core group together'

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The Los Angeles Lakers face an uncertain offseason in the wake of an early playoff exit, but according to team vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka, the main goal is to keep the core group intact.

"I'm convinced that, again, without some of the unforeseen circumstances this year, the challenges that we had to face, that we'd be a championship-caliber team," Pelinka told ESPN's Dave McMenamin during Friday's exit interviews.

"So the goal is to try to keep that core group together."

It's not entirely clear what Pelinka views as the Lakers' "core," though two things are certain: the organization has committed more than $100 million to LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kyle Kuzma, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope for next season, and they have a slew of players entering free agency.

Alex Caruso, Talen Horton-Tucker, Wesley Matthews, Markieff Morris, Ben McLemore, Kostas Antetokounmpo, Dennis Schroder, and Jared Dudley are all eligible for free agency, and Montrezl Harrell's contract includes a $9.7-million player option for next season. Andre Drummond's short-term deal also expires in the summer.

Morris and Schroder were among those who spoke to the media Friday and expressed interest in returning for the 2021-22 season, while Harrell admitted he hasn't made a decision yet, saying: "I can't give you that answer right now, brother."

The Lakers aren't exactly blessed with a bevy of tradable draft picks or coveted young players who could be packaged for upgrades, only adding to a litany of offseason predicaments for Pelinka and Co.

Even with a roster that underperformed against the Suns, Pelinka says there should be no shortage of incentive entering next season.

"I think when you fall short of the goal that you set, it has to drive you," Pelinka said. "It has to be the fuel that drives your passion, and I think us falling short as a team, that in some sense is going to be part of our motivation and putting in the work to getting back at it, and start training camp next year with a strong roster."

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Lakers GM aiming to keep 'core group together'
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