More and more, it appears the Lakers aren’t going to bring in a savior from the outside to replace Magic Johnson and turn the Lakers’ fortunes around. Current general manager Rob Pelinka showed coach Luke Walton the door then started the coaching search. It looks like the Lakers may give Pelinka the hammer on basketball decision making, he’s taking charge of it already.
That may be the best move because the Lakers’ getting a big name team president seemed to be going about as well as their free agency pursuits under Jim Buss. The top candidates mentioned have shot the idea down or taken other jobs before even having a serious conversation with the Lakers.
David Griffin, the guy who built a championship team around LeBron James in Cleveland, took the job as the head of the New Orleans Pelicans’ head of basketball operations.
Bob Myers, the Warriors head man, is a UCLA graduate who got his law degree in the Los Angeles area and lived in the city for more than a decade as an agent. He was quickly linked to the job, but told Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area that he’s happy where he’s at with the job he’s got and the powerhouse he’s built.
Me: What are you doing here today?
Bob: What do you mean?
Me: Shouldn’t you be having lunch with (Lakers controlling owner) Jeanie Buss?
Bob: Oh, right. Almost forgot. (Looks at his watch) I’m supposed to meet her at 2.
Myers then laughed a laugh that suggests he’s not eager to go anywhere anytime soon, even if there are days and nights when he probably wouldn’t mind.
Pat Riley returning to the Lakers from Miami was another name that came up a lot, but Riley was clear in speaking at his end-of-season press conference that he’s not going anywhere. Except maybe South Beach for dinner. Via Shandel Richardson of The Athletic:
“I mean, I’m not going to comment on another team’s misfortune while they’re going through some adversity right now,” Riley said at his annual end-of-the-season press conference at AmericanAirlines Arena. “There’s no doubt that I have a history with that team. I was there for 20 years and I have a lot of friends still in the organization. I had a good conversation with Magic after he stepped down and I’m sure they’ll work it out. I’m not going to be part of that. That’s not what I want to do.”
One other name that Laker fans bring up is a guy just down the hall at Staples Center: Jerry West. The Laker legend and former GM of the team who is one of the smartest minds in basketball and has a statue of himself as a Laker outside Staples. That, however, may be the longest shot of all — there is a lot of bad blood from how West’s time in the Laker front office ended, and new regime under Jeanie Buss or not that is not going away. There is no prodigal son story here. It is not happening.
Which means the job may be Pelinka’s, for better or worse.