Following the shocking announcement that Magic Johnson would be stepping down as president of basketball operations for the Los Angeles Lakers, the focus shifted to general manager Rob Pelinka, who was brought on just a few months after Johnson was hired.
As much blame as Johnson deserves for the Lakers’ shortcomings this season, he was only only one half of the basketball operations tandem, with Pelinka being the other half. If Johnson is no longer there, one would assume that Pelinka is on his way out.
However, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, that’s far from the case. In fact, per Shelburne’s report. Pelinka could to take on a more prominent role with the organization going forward:
The team is still assessing Johnson’s decision, but general manager Rob Pelinka will stay in his job, and, if anything, his power will grow, sources told Shelburne.
The general manager position is already a large role, but team president and controlling owner Jeanie Buss could promote Pelinka to president of basketball operations or give him the title of both president of basketball operations and general manager, something that isn’t uncommon in the NBA. For example, Mitch Kupchak, who was previously employed by the Lakers, holds that role with the Charlotte Hornets., as does Danny Ainge with the Boston Celtics.
However, that title is usually bestowed upon someone a little more seasoned than Pelinka, whose experience as an executive goes back less than two years. It’s also typically given to someone that’s proven in their field, and one could make the argument that Pelinka is not that given how unsuccessful the Lakers have been over the past two seasons. It’s also notable that Johnson didn’t exactly endorse his running mate for the position:
Magic Johnson is asked if he’d like to see Luke Walton remain coach. He’s asked if he thinks Rob Pelinka is the right GM for the organization. To both questions he says that’s up to Jeanie Buss.— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) April 10, 2019
While it certainly wouldn’t be shocking to see Pelinka step into a larger role, it would almost definitely be in the team’s best interest to look outside of their organization for help going into a make-or-break summer for the Lakers.
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