Thus far, the transition from agent to executive has been pretty smooth for Rob Pelinka. In a relatively short period of time, he’s helped completely turn around the Los Angeles Lakers, both in terms of on-court product and organizational perception. Signing LeBron James will rightfully get all the attention, but it goes beyond that.
Pelinka explained how his time as an agent helped him make the Lakers attractive place to James and other players on “The Official Lakers Podcast”:
“I think in addition to Kobe, just working as a player representative for all those years, it kind of let me into the mindset of what the players want from the franchises they’re playing for. What are the important things? Because I would hear all the complaints, like ‘Hey this team needs to do this better or that better.’ And I would witness the strengths because strengths aren’t complained about.”
When he was hired, Pelinka was seen as Magic Johnson’s CBA guy which, to an extent, is probably an apt job description. But I think where he’s probably just as useful is in his ability to relate to the desires of players (stars especially) having served those requests over the extent of his time as a player agent.
Magic offers the charisma that will draw players to the Lakers and seal the deal as he did with LeBron, but Pelinka’s understanding of the intricacies of player preference is absolutely priceless.
He continued, discussing the benefits of his working relationship with Johnson and Lakers owner Jeanie Buss.
“So I think what Magic and I have done is taken that resource pool of information and used it to kind of shape how we want the Lakers to look, and at the center of that is that this is a very player-centric franchise. Jeanie Buss, as you know, has one of the biggest hearts in the world and is also brilliant, and wanted to kind of bring this welcome, hospitality, family feel here. I think that, plus the experiences I had as a player representative has led to building this now, where we’re getting the feeling that players like LeBron and others see this as the place they want to be.”
I wouldn’t feel honest if I didn’t mention that guys like Julius Randle or Brook Lopez might’ve felt different, but for those the Lakers consider an important piece of their future, this culture Pelinka is outlining is the kind of thing that players across the league will learn about.
It’s way too early to make any sweeping judgments about the front office, but in theory at least, the pieces are coming together quite nicely. Here’s hoping that carries over to the on-court product.