The Los Angeles Lakers made major NBA news with changes in their front office. L.A. relieved long-time general manager Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss, executive vice president of basketball operations, with Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Rob Pelinka set to replace them.
On Tuesday, Lakers Governor Jeanie Buss made the announcement that Magic would take over basketball operations immediately. She also said that they would begin their search for a new GM.
It was then rumored that renowned agent Rob Pelinka emerged as the leading candidate for the Lakers’ general manager position. Previously, Pelinka has represented NBA players like Kobe Bryant and James Harden.
An official press conference is expected once Pelinka is officially the general manager.
Rob Pelinka As New GM
Tuesday night, The Vertical reported that Los Angeles finalized a deal to hire Pelinka as general manager. The report said that Pelinka will be the day-to-day executive running the organization. He will engineer trades and coordinate NBA Draft scouting.
The former agent will also answer to Magic Johnson. Pelinka has to divest as an agent before joining an NBA front office.
Pelinka has begun informing his clients of possibility of him being Lakers GM, per sources. He's widely expected to be announced soon.— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) February 21, 2017
Pelinka himself played college basketball at the University of Michigan. He went to three Final Fours in the ’90s with the infamous Fab Five teams.
Trevor Ariza on Pelinka: "I think he'll be unbelievable in that role. He knows basketball. He has a really, really good eye for talent."— Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) February 21, 2017
Moreover, Gordon said Pelinka will be just fine with the new challenge of becoming an NBA general manager.
Additionally, Pelinka has relationships with the Lakers by representing Derek Fisher, Bryant, and more.
Pelinka has vast experience working w/the Lakers, obviously, repping Kobe, Derek Fisher & others over the years for his agency, Landmark.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) February 21, 2017
Bryant advocated for the Pelinka hire. Now, Pelinka will reportedly turn over his agency, Landmark Sports, to his employees.
The news of agent turned general manager is not unprecedented, since the Golden State Warriors hired Bob Myers in 2012, per Sports Out West.
Magic Johnson Takeover
Otherwise, Earvin Johnson said it is a priority for Lakers to hold onto their young talent during a news interview with Spectrum SportsNet.
Magic said he’s been asked by many GM’s already about his young players. Basically, he said, “No."— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) February 21, 2017
Also during his availability with the media, Magic said he will have final say in decisions. The Lakers’ legend understands that his legacy is at stake by taking the lead of the Lakers’ front office.
Magic on his legacy in L.A. if this doesn’t work as he wants it to: "I’m putting it all on the line. I knew what I was getting into."— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) February 21, 2017
According to Mike Trudell, Johnson said he took the job because the timing is right. He said he is dedicating all of his time to it.
As for his plans for the organization, Johnson said he wants to develop a winning culture with the players on the roster.
However, he said he is not going to do it all on his own.
Magic wants the new GM to be “smarter than me. I’m not going to have every answer.” Added importance of Jesse Buss, Ryan West and staff.— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) February 21, 2017
According to USA Today, Ryan West’s retention as director of player personnel is significant because he is the son of Lakers legend Jerry West. Ryan West was underutilized by the previous regime and he will now have more influence on the future under Magic.
In his exclusive interview with SpectrumSportsNet, Johnson said the move to fire Kupchak and Jim Buss was more about the organization’s last few years than the past couple of weeks.
Johnson added that it was time for him to put his private business aside to handle the Lakers business, according to Lakers beat writer Bob Garcia.
Any other business venture Magic Johnson is or has been involved with will now take a backseat to the Lakers, he said.— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) February 21, 2017
Also according to ESPN’s Arash Markazi, Johnson will put 150 percent of his efforts into the Lakers. Johnson’s interest in the job started with a dinner that he had with Jeanie Buss after she broke up with Phil Jackson.
Johnson is already fielding trade offers from other NBA GMs.
Magic is the person who made the trade with Houston for Lou Williams. He's the person working the phones.— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) February 22, 2017
Lakers’ Family Dynamics
The Buss Family has made lots of NBA news since they took over the Lakers after the 2013 death of their father Jerry Buss.
Nonetheless, Jeanie Buss added that the status quo was not what the Lakers organization stands for via the Spectrum interview.
Moreover, she said it was something she thought about for a long time. Jeanie also said it was a tough decision and she might have even waited too long.
Why did Jeanie make the move to change the Lakers’ front office?
In the initial morning announcement, Jeanie said she made the moves to return the Lakers to heights that their fans expect. It was later reported that Jim Buss would keep his role as a member of Lakers ownership.
In statement, Jeanie Buss said Jim Buss is still has ownership role w/ Lakers. Lakers also parted ways with longtime spokesman John Black— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) February 21, 2017
Apparently, Jeanie and Jim had only been speaking via lawyers for months, per Pro Basketball Talk. Jeanie was not informed of the Cousins negotiations, despite her essentially running the organization alongside her brother Jim.
USA Today’s Sam Amick also points out that Jeanie Buss had been fed up with the team’s losing for years. Not to mention, the team had missed on signing several free agent stars over the past few offseason.
Plus, this was the first year since 1996 that an NBA All-Star Game had no Lakers player participating. The NBA’s biggest weekend comes to L.A. next year which adds pressure to add some All-Star power to the Lakers. Hence, Amick said it was time to bring the hammer down on her brother and Kupchak.
Then, there is current Lakers coach Luke Walton who was hired by Kupchak and Jim Buss before this season. ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne tweeted that it was unclear if Walton would have any say in the hiring of a new general manager. He did not have a say in the previous firings of the regime that hired him.
While Magic Johnson has spoken to head coach Luke Walton since joining the organization, the coach wasn't consulted on front office moves— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) February 21, 2017
Otherwise, there are mixed reports about Kobe Bryant’s potential role with the organization. Bryant is happy doing what he is doing now but he is available if the Lakers need him, Shelburne.
Meanwhile, Amick said Magic wants Kobe back in some sort of player relations role.
Also, Magic wants Kobe Bryant to come back on board with some sort of player relations role. He recently intimated as much publicly.— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) February 21, 2017
The Lakers front office could make even more NBA news with the onboarding of Kobe Bryant.
Nonetheless, Johnson will still maintain his roles with the L.A. Dodgers, Sparks, and Football Club. However, he will not be involved in the day-to-day operations for the other Los Angeles franchises.
Magic will still be a part-owner of the Dodgers, Sparks and LAFC but will not be involved day-to-day. "The Lakers will take all of my time."— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) February 21, 2017
The Lakers brought Magic on as a consultant last week, per Hoops Hype. The NBA Hall of Famer said that he wanted to become a key decision maker for the Lakers, who are currently 19-39.
Now, it seems like Johnson got his wish. In his final comment with Spectrum, Johnson said he could not draw up a better dream job.
Either way, it should be interesting to see what NBA news the Magic and Pelinka era brings to the L.A. Lakers. They are currently No. 14 in the NBA’s Western Conference standings.
[Featured Image by Arthur Mola/AP Images]