When Magic Johnson suddenly resigned from his position as president of basketball operations, the focus immediately shifted towards reimagining the new Los Angeles Lakers front office. Who would take over Magic’s role and would general manager Rob Pelinka survive the changes?
Right now, things seem to point towards Pelinka being the man in charge. He is reportedly in team owner Jeanie Buss’ good graces and it seems as though he has been put in charge of the search for a new head coach. Pelinka was the Lakers representative in a statement issued after the firing of head coach Luke Walton.
But according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Lakers are expected to find a replacement for Magic; there’s just no timetable as to when they will do that:
The Lakers are expected to be patient with their approach in moving forward to find a potential new voice, sources familiar with their thinking say. Around the league, people understood the Lakers’ medical staff was under the spotlight, too. The process to address that is underway, with trainer Marco Nuñez having been fired.
Pelinka and head coach Luke Walton conducted exit meetings with players on Wednesday, sources said and, for now, both will be looked upon to provide stability ahead of Buss’ search for the team’s next president.
Obviously, this was reported before Walton was fired. How much that changes the calculus of the situation is unclear. Perhaps it means that even if Pelinka is momentarily there to “provide stability,” his job isn’t truly safe.
This report would also seemingly indicate that Pelinka will not receive a promotion, which is good news given his lack of experience. But the fact that he would theoretically be forced into a front office with a new authority figure that would want to hire his own staff is a scary thought. How many respected executives in the league would want the owner to tell them who to hire, especially when that person is someone who has burned bridges at nearly every level of pro basketball?
It is very clear that the Lakers need a complete overhaul. Magic stepping down and Walton and Nunez being fired pave the way for that. But all of that is pointless if Pelinka stays in a decision-making role, whether he is promoted or survives a front office change.