Longtime Los Angeles Lakers front office executive Ryan West is leaving the organization, according to multiple reports. It’s not yet clear what prompted his exit, or where he’ll go next.
Bill Oram of The Athletic first reported West’s departure:
Lakers front office news: The team has parted ways with director of player personnel Ryan West, sources told @TheAthletic. The son of Jerry West was first hired as a scout in 2009. Worked in Memphis before that. West credited for D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson picks.— Bill Oram (@billoram) July 27, 2019
After 10 years in the Lakers front office, Director of Player Personnel Ryan West is leaving the organization, league sources tell ESPN. West has been well-regarded league-wide for his role in many of the Lakers draft successes of the past decade.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 27, 2019
Ryan West and the team decided to part ways in the last few days. His contract was up & they mutually agreed he’d reached a ceiling w/ the team in the role he’d been in, league sources told ESPN. https://t.co/vEuCRSfCT3— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) July 28, 2019
But while it’s impossible to know exactly where West is going next, this is almost undoubtedly a loss for the Lakers because, as Oram and Wojnarowski noted, West is well-regarded league wide, most notably resulting in the Sacramento Kings trying to poach him in 2015, which led to his promotion to his current title.
Still, even if this was surprising, in retrospect it might not be. We know that Jesse and Joey Buss wanted bigger roles with the organization, so it’s not impossible to suspect that such responsibilities may have minimized West’s own role with the team, which could have led to him wanting to seek another opportunity. Especially given that the Lakers just made a front office promotion from within:
Busy offseason for SBL - Nick Mazzella, Heather Mau, and Coby Karl all received interviews to join NBA teams. Nick was promoted to Director of Pro Personnel for LAL, and Coby is set to HC the California Classic. And Congratulations to Heather for her call up to a new NBA team!— Joey Buss (@Jbuss) June 27, 2019
Mazzella has done a good job finding contributors for the parent team while in South Bay, so it stands to reason that he could help do so while working more directly with the Lakers front office moving forward. That means that South Bay will need a replacement for Mazzella, but at least the Lakers would appear set to weather this loss by promoting a qualified candidate from within.
Still, Mazzella is director of pro personnel, while West was director of player personnel. There could be overlap between the two roles, but they are evidently not exactly the same, and Mazzella is not a direct replacement for West.
When Magic Johnson stepped down, the Lakers split his responsibilities among existing staffers. Will they do the same with West? Will they promote from within? Will they hire an outside candidate? What they do to fill West's role in the scouting process will be one of the last interesting storylines to follow this summer.