Pelinka touts Lakers' 'strong appeal,' title hopes

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Despite Magic Johnson airing his grievances with Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka and a coaching search that took very public twists and turns before ending up on Frank Vogel, L.A.'s top basketball executive projected confidence as the franchise looks ahead to a crucial summer of free agency.

"I think if people take a look at where this franchise is right now, again we have a great coach, we have a high draft pick. We have a great young core, maybe one of the best in the league. We have a superstar on our team, and an open slot," Pelinka said Monday during Vogel's introductory news conference.

"So I think people can look at this as an opportunity to win a championship possibly next year."

The Lakers, who had luck on their side at the NBA draft lottery last week when they landed the No. 4 pick and have enough cap space to offer a max-level contract to a free agent this summer to come join LeBron James and their group of emerging talent, hope their coach is part of their resurgence next season.

"We know the characteristics and qualities we stand for," added Pelinka, who refuted Johnson's claims that he undermined him. "And we know as a staff and feel very strongly that if people judge and evaluate us for who we are as an organization and the vision and path we have going forward, we feel there will be a very, very strong appeal for the great players to come here."