While it’s been assumed for several weeks now, we finally have confirmation that the Los Angeles Lakers have no intentions of hiring a president of basketball operations to replace Magic Johnson, who resigned from his position in April.
Instead, general manager Rob Pelinka will report to the team’s ownership group, which includes team president and controlling owner Jeanie Buss, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:
The Lakers have decided they will not hire a President of Basketball Operations to replace Magic Johnson, a team source told ESPN.— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) May 17, 2019
General manager Rob Pelinka will continue in his role, reporting directly to ownership. Pelinka had previously reported to Johnson
Most people could have guessed this was the direction the Lakers were going, but there was apparently a time where Buss seriously considered hiring a president of basketball operations to replace Johnson:
Buss considered several options after Johnson’s departure, including replacing him, the source said. However she’s since decided to continue with Pelinka as her top basketball decision-maker.
What stopped her, you ask? While no one knows for sure, one could guess it had something to do with her special advisors, Kurt and Linda Rambis.
Instead of hiring someone to focus on the team’s basketball operations, it sounds like Jeanie will have the final say on every move the Lakers make going forward and she’ll have Kurt and Linda to help her make those decisions. Kurt played a big role in the team’s coaching search and has been a part of their pre-draft process.
It’s not uncommon for general managers to report directly to ownership and some executives, like former Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak, actually prefer it. However, there’s reason to be wary of the fact that Jeanie is surrounding herself with people she’s known almost all of her life. As Silver Screen & Roll’s Anthony Irwin likes to put it: The Lakers are operating like a “mom and pop” shop, and there’s a danger in doing that.
Perhaps they can change the narrative that surrounds them with a stellar offseason, but they have their work cut out for them after a series of slip ups this past year. For their sake and the team’s, let’s hope they can get the Lakers back on track.