The Los Angeles Lakers seem to be bringing back as many of the legends of yesteryear as they can as they shore up their efforts to revamp the franchise. Magic Johnson is leading the way, with Kobe Bryant helping the front office evaluate talent they currently have, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar interested in an unspecified role that includes mentoring Ivica Zubac.
One Hall of Famer clearly won’t be coming back, though. Golden State Warriors executive board member Jerry West has all but closed the door on returning to the Lakers. With the hiring of Johnson as president of basketball operations and Rob Pelinka as general manager, West returning “does not seem to be a possibility,” reports Tim Kawakami of The Mercury News.
This corroborates with a few loose stories that trickled out over the past few months. Immediately following the firing of Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak and hiring of Johnson, Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report reported that West would not be part of the Lakers’ future.
Mark Heisler of the Orange County Register doubled-down on that report in April, stating that despite clear interest from West in returning to the purple and gold, the Lakers simply weren’t interested in going that direction
Kawakami seems to fill in the blanks from the Warriors’ side of the equation. Here’s what he had to say about West and the Lakers (via The Mercury News):
A few months ago, a source close to West indicated he might be intrigued if the Lakers were interested in bringing him on in an advisory role.
But with the advent of Magic Johnson’s takeover and the hiring of new GM Rob Pelinka, that does not seem to be a possibility and I don’t think West would be interested any more even if it was.
Connecting the dots, it seems fairly clear there was definitely interest floated from West’s that was not reciprocated by the Lakers. The franchise is heavily invested in Magic and Pelinka delivering a complete overhaul of the inner-workings of the team, and adding West into the equation may have muddled the very clear vision the duo is chasing.
On the other hand it wouldn’t hurt to have someone like West, who has a great track record as a basketball decision maker to go with his ties to the Lakers, providing input on a variety of things.
West’s contract with the Warriors expires this summer, but it’s unclear if he’d consider other options outside of Golden State at this point. Warriors owner Joe Lacob made it clear while speaking with Kawakami that the Warriors “would love” West to continue on with the franchise.
All signs point to West not joining the Lakers’ front office if he does decide to look at his options outside of Golden State. Considering the Warriors are headed to their third straight NBA Finals, perhaps hanging around and enjoying the fruit of of his labor there is the simplest - and right - outcome.