It’s been over a week since Magic Johnson resigned as president of basketball operations for the Los Angeles Lakers and there hasn’t been any indication that they’re actively looking for a replacement. In fact, most signs point general manager Rob Pelinka taking the reins of the team’s day-to-day basketball operations going forward.
However, there was an interesting development on Wednesday. During an appearance on Fox Sports 1’s “The Herd with Colin Cowherd,” Arash Markazi of the Los Angeles Times said that in spite of everything that has came out saying otherwise, Pelinka won’t assume the role as president of basketball operations for the Lakers:
Cowherd: Pelinka, I’m told, will not get the No. 1 job. Were you told that?
Markazi: Exactly. He will not get the No. 1 job.
Both Cowherd and Markazi speculated that the reason they have yet to engage in discussions with potential replacements for Johnson is because the person that they’re targeting is employed by a team currently competing in the playoffs. While that might be true, there’s nothing that prohibits the Lakers from reaching out to employees of other teams at this stage of the season, even if that team is playing in the postseason
For example, on Wednesday afternoon, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that the Minnesota Timberwolves had been given permission to speak with LA Clippers general manager Michael Winger for their vacant president of basketball operations role. If the Lakers wanted to, they could do the same unless they were confident their request to speak to said employee would be denied. At that point, any conversation between the two parties would be considered tampering.
While it wouldn’t be out of character for the Lakers to tamper with other team’s employees, it doesn’t sound like that’s what they’re doing.
Ramona Shelburne of ESPN jumped on “Mason & Ireland” to give the latest update on the Lakers’ front office situation and she said that, as far as she knows, the team doesn’t have anyone lined up to take Johnson’s place:
“No … I don’t think there is and it’s because I’m usually pretty good at telling when people are lying to me and I just don’t think they are. I’ve called, I’ve tried to listen, I’ve tried to have my detector on. I don’t think so.”
Shelburne said that he has heard of the rumor, but that she doesn’t trust where she’s hearing those rumors “more than I trust the people who are really making those decisions.” That’s about as close as she can say to “Jeanie told me” without saying it. So, where do the Lakers stand on that front currently?
According to Shelburne, the plan has remained unchanged: Pelinka will oversee basketball operations until he’s told to do otherwise. It might not be the news that Lakers fans want to hear, but it’s been the overwhelming sentiment over the past several days.
In other words, buckle up Lakers fans: It’s going to be a long summer.