For the second time in the span of two years, the Los Angeles Lakers are expected to conduct a search for a new president of basketball operations after Magic Johnson unexpectedly resigned on Tuesday.
Once they bring on someone new (assuming they do), it’s possible that general manager Rob Pelinka and head Luke Walton will be relieved of their duties in favor of whoever the new executive has in mind. But for now, it doesn’t sound like they’re going anywhere.
According to Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times, there are no immediate plans to fire Pelinka or Walton, although some compromises might have to be made on Walton’s part if he wants to stick around long-term:
On Wednesday she did not make any impulsive decisions. Pelinka, about whom Johnson expressed some hesitance on Tuesday evening, remained the team’s general manager. Walton, whom Johnson said he didn’t want to force Buss to fire, remained the head coach.
No change in their status is imminent, though people familiar with the Lakers’ thinking said Walton might be asked to alter his coaching staff after a season in which the Lakers went 37-45.
Thus far, Walton has shown a reluctance to make any changes to his coaching staff and with rumors that other teams are interested in his services, it’s hard to imagine that will change. However, that same reluctance reportedly prompted Walton’s longtime supporter Jeanie Buss to give Johnson permission to fire Walton before he resigned on Tuesday, so maybe his mindset will change.
Now, it seems as though Walton has two options: Hire a few more proven and experienced assistants, or find another team to coach. Which decision he takes will be telling of what kind of coach he can be.
As for Pelinka, there’s a good chance he stays in his role in spite of comments from rival executives saying he’s not the easiest person to work with. In fact, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN reported that it’s possible his role could increase in Johnson’s absence. All this is fluid for now, though, and could change in the wake of the inevitable candidate search to fill Johnson’s role. We’ll see what happens.