Report: Some agents, executives prefer to bypass Rob Pelinka, deal with other Lakers executives

Rob Pelinka
Dec 18, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Lakers team executives Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Jeannie Buss and Rob Pelinka pose with Kobe Bryant during a halftime ceremony retiring Bryant’s uniform numbers at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers have not had any direction since Magic Johnson stepped down as president of basketball operations. The team has not hired a replacement and it’s not clear who is the lead decision-maker in the front office.

As it stands, Rob Pelinka is still the general manager. He is reporting to owner Jeanie Buss. Lakers adviser Kurt Rambis and his wife Linda, a close friend of Buss, are also reportedly influential in management.

Pelinka was expected to become the lead man in the front office but things are working against him. Among those things is his reputation around the league which has long been rumored to be in poor standing. ESPN’s Dave McMenamin and Ohm Youngmisuk provided some details:

League sources said Buss and Linda Rambis trust Pelinka, who has been around the organization since his days as an agent representing Bryant, his longtime client and best friend.

However, some agents and executives around the league said they preferred to deal with others they felt more comfortable with, like Johnson, according to sources. Some longtime agents said they have gone directly to Buss, Linda Rambis or Joey or Jesse Buss when they need to talk.

Two other agents said Pelinka and the Lakers just have “a lot of haters” out there and that the agents do not have a problem with the GM.

It’s not exactly new information that some people around the league preferred not to deal with Pelinka. But it is interesting just how many people in the organization are receiving those calls. It’s become inherently clear that everyone around the league is just as confused about the hierarchy of the organization. If Linda Rambis and three different Buss siblings are receiving calls from agents and executives, there’s not exactly a sense of direction in the front office. That’s not even to mention Kurt Rambis, who some executives believe is operating like a “shadow president.”

Somehow through all this, the Lakers hired a head coach, reportedly with some outside influence involved. But even that process showed how fractured this organization is with multiple failures to get the team’s first and second top choices and settling for Frank Vogel, while also forcing Jason Kidd onto his staff.

The Lakers are headed for a monumentally important free agency decision. Without any structure in their front office, it’s hard to see them having any success in getting LeBron James the help he needs to build a contender.

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