For the greater half of this decade, the Los Angeles Lakers have had success finding contributors late in the draft such as Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., Ivica Zubac and, most recently, Kyle Kuzma. On Saturday, it was reported that the man credited with finding a handful of those players, Ryan West—son of Jerry West—was leaving the team after 10 years.
Since then, there has been a lot of uninformed speculation that West is leaving the Lakers to join his father across the hall at Staples Center with the LA Clippers, and while that may be where he end ups, that’s not the reason he and the Lakers parted ways, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN;
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
West has served as the team’s director of player personnel since 2015. Prior to that, he held the title of assistant director of scouting for six years.
When longtime Lakers assistant general manager Glenn Carraro resigned from his position in 2017, many assumed that West would assume that role alongside Jesse Buss, who was promoted to assistant general manager in 2015, but it doesn’t sound like that opportunity was ever presented to West and according to Shelburne’s report, a similar offer wasn’t on the horizon, either.
The question then is: Why?
Considering the Lakers are expected to have late first-round draft picks for the next decade, one would figure an eye for talent like West would be an invaluable asset to have. However, in order to retain West without promoting him, the Lakers likely would have had to pay him handsomely and it’s possible they couldn’t compete with the market for him, or just didn’t care to.
That would be a disappointing development for one of the biggest markets in all of sports if true, but it seems like they’re committed to grooming Nick Mazzella, who was recently promoted to director of pro personnel. While it’s not technically the same position, it’s hard to imagine the duties won’t be similar.
If Mazzella enjoys the same success he enjoyed with the team’s G League affiliate, the South Bay Lakers, West’s exit might not be so detrimental for Los Angeles. However, if West thrives as an assistant general manager or general manager on a rival team in the near future, there will be questions for the front office for letting him walk.
For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @RadRivas.