When the shock of Magic Johnson stepping down as the Los Angeles Lakers’ president of basketball operations wore down, the question immediately became a matter of what would happen to general manager Rob Pelika. Johnson’s resignation and Luke Walton’s subsequent firing, after all, gave the Lakers the perfect opportunity to clean house and start fresh after a disastrous first season with LeBron James.
That has not fully come to light, however. Pelinka has been at the forefront of the organization since the changes were made and the consensus has been that he is leading the team’s coaching search, setting up interviews with Tyronn Lue, Monty Williams, Juwan Howard and Jason Kidd.
There have been some rumblings that the Lakers could look to hire a more experienced executive with the Warriors’ Bob Myers listed by many insiders as someone who would be a massive success for the franchise. But according to Bill Oram and Sam Amick of The Athletic, it seems like the job is Pelinka’s to lose:
Yet while rumblings remain that Buss might replace Johnson with an elite front office executive at some point, and with so much pressure from local and national media to conduct a comprehensive search for a new president of basketball operations who isn’t required to have deep Lakers ties, a source with knowledge of Jeanie’s plan insists that this front office is Pelinka’s to run. At least for now.
According to sources, the Lakers never reached out to LeBron’s former general manager in Cleveland, Dave Griffin, before he agreed to join New Orleans. Sources also say that they haven’t reached out to the Warriors regarding general manager Bob Myers.
Matters like these can always change, of course, but all early signs point to Pelinka remaining as the head of the front office.
The two also report that the Lakers did not reach out to Jerry West, who is currently a consultant for the Clippers.
This decision is, of course, something that has become more and more apparent over the past few weeks. It seems clear that despite rubbing many people around the league the wrong way, Pelinka is well-liked by the people in charge of the Lakers and will consequentially get to keep his job because of it.
Of course, there’s no true way of knowing if this is the right move. The Lakers’ last offseason was a mess despite signing LeBron. The trade deadline effectively ended all chances of the team coming together to make a run for the playoffs. The designation of these failures between Johnson and Pelinka is not known. At least for now, it seems like the Lakers are conducting a fairly normal and comprehensive coaching search and their candidates have taken note of that.
But regardless of how Pelinka performs in his role, it’s the process that has routinely been a mistake by Jeanie Buss and the rest of the Lakers brain trust. Their inability to think outside the box and hire outside of the “Lakers family,” has led to the organization’s many missteps over the last half-decade.
Pelinka could turn into a good executive. For their sake, he needs to do so quickly before they waste another year of arguably the greatest basketball player ever. In the Lakers’ eyes, they’re not willing to look for alternatives.