After both Magic Johnson and Luke Walton departed from the Los Angeles Lakers on their own terms this week, many have wondered if general manager Rob Pelinka would be the next to go. As it stands, that doesn’t seem likely.
According to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, Pelinka will be the man in charge of conducting the search for the Lakers’ next head coach:
Pelinka will run the Lakers coaching search. As @wojespn reported Ty Lue is one of the leading candidates. The expectation is they will talk to others, too, though.— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) April 12, 2019
Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times confirmed the report, and speculated what it could mean for Pelinka’s role going forward:
Can confirm that Rob Pelinka will be running the Lakers' coaching search. Which leads one to wonder if they will be hiring someone for the executive role that Magic Johnson just vacated.— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) April 12, 2019
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard that Pelinka’s influence within the organization could grow stronger.
Earlier this week, Shelburne reported that in the absence of Johnson, Pelinka’s power will grow. At first, it seemed like that would only be the case until they found a new president of basketball operations, but now there’s reason to believe that instead of filling Johnson’s role, the Lakers are considering just expanding Pelinka’s.
The first sign of this came in the press release the Lakers sent out on Friday announcing that they had mutually agreed to part ways with Walton. The person that gave a statement on behalf of the team? Pelinka.
Following that announcement, it was reported that the Lakers already have a few candidates in mind for their head coaching position, including former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue and Philadelphia 76ers’ assistant Monty Williams. But how could a team without a president of basketball operations already have favorites for a new head coach? One could assume it’s because Pelinka will be overseeing basketball operations for the team in the president of basketball operations role, if not a dual role. How long that will be the case remains to be seen, but if the Lakers were planning to hire someone over Pelinka, it seems unlikely they’d be letting him make so many pivotal decisions before that person comes aboard.
The Lakers were presented with a unique opportunity to bring in an outsider and shake things up in the front office when Johnson left, but instead, it looks like they’re leaning toward maintaining the status quo in Pelinka.
As ESPN analyst Pepper Brooks once said: “It’s a bold strategy, Cotton. Let’s see how it pays off for ‘em.”