Rob Pelinka, who got to know the Lakers’ organization well as the agent for Kobe Bryant, is now officially their new general manager.
The move had been expected, and Tuesday the Lakers made it official.
“Rob’s knowledge of the NBA landscape and the CBA, as well as his relationships with GMs around the league, are invaluable,” said President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson. “After running a successful sports agency and as someone who truly understands the inner workings of salary caps and player negotiations, he will bring the additional skills and experience needed in the Lakers executive office. Rob is a winner and the Lakers are fortunate to have him.”
“I am beyond grateful to join the Lakers front office,” said Pelinka in a statement. “The Lakers are a gold standard for sports franchises in the world, so we all share a responsibility to pursue excellence in everything we do. Excellence is what the Lakers stands for, what Jeanie Buss and Earvin Johnson embody, and what Coach (Luke) Walton demands from our players. That obsession for greatness is what will bring Lakers basketball back to a championship level. With Jeanie and Magic guiding the vision, I am thrilled to help architect the future. I am really excited to get to work.”
Pelinka will work with Magic at the top of the Lakers basketball operations, although exactly how that power sharing arrangement will work is not yet clear. He will oversee a staff that includes Ryan West (son of former Laker GM Jerry West), plus Joey and Jessee Buss, who both have ownership shares in the team and are respected for the work they have put in learning the basketball side of the operation.
What Pelinka brings is an impressive contacts list — he already knows virtually everyone around the league — and an eye for talent, as well as recruiting that talent to his agency. Recruiting of talent has been a weak spot for the Lakers in free agency in recent years. Whether his skills can translate into being a successful GM remains to be seen, but his former players think it can.
Pelinka and Magic take over for Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak, who were forced out of their positions at the head of basketball operations by team governor Jeanie Buss following the Lakers being in the worst four-year stretch in franchise history. The Game of Thrones power struggle for control of the Lakers is not over, as evidenced by Jim and Johnny Buss making a power play last week that Jeanie thwarted.
Lakers fans may not be sold on the Magic/Pelinka combo, but they would rather give almost anyone a shot other than Jim, who made plenty of mistakes but also became a scapegoat for much more.