Jeanie Buss Explains Why Lakers Extended Rob Pelinka’s Contract
Rob Pelinka Jeanie Buss Lakers
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers extended vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka’s contract in the offseason, a surprising decision considering the failures of the 2021-22 campaign.

Pelinka took responsibility for the poor roster construction that derailed the Lakers’ season, promising to help the team regain a contender status soon. Many expected the general manager to find himself under increased scrutiny moving forward, particularly after he remained in office while last year’s performance cost head coach Frank Vogel his job.

But reports claim L.A. wanted to extend Pelinka’s contract to put him on the same contractual timeline as the new head coach, even before Darvin Ham’s firing. In an appearance on the “Rich Eisen Show,” Lakers governor Jeanie Buss confirmed that the GM signed the extension at the end of 2021-22.

Buss explained she made the decision to make sure the new coach would enjoy absolute support from the front office:

“I’m glad that you brought up Rob Pelinka because he signed an extension at the end of last season, because I wanted to make sure that he and the coach were on the same page — so before going on this search for a new coach, it wouldn’t be the coach wondering if the general manager was all in because his deal would be coming up. Just to really create a collaboration between front office and coach, which is what I advocate for because of my relationship with Phil Jackson. I know what an NBA coach goes through and how it feels like you’re put on the plank to stand out there alone. And I wanted to make sure that the new coach that we hired knew that there would be this support, that there would be this long-term opportunity to build success, and that it wouldn’t be about who’s on the hot seat next.”

Interestingly, Buss also said she doesn’t know why the news came out right before the start of the 2022-23 season, speculating the “strange” timing might have been a result of “an internal leak.”

Pelinka & Lakers to reengage in Russell Westbrook trade talks after 2022-23 starts

Among the biggest challenges for Pelinka in the weeks to come, his front office will have to decide Russell Westbrook’s future — which appears to be far from certain even though the 33-year-old guard will start the 2022-23 season with the Lakers.

Westbrook is now expected to begin the new campaign as the leader of L.A.’s second unit after he came off the bench in the preseason finale.

Reports claim Ham’s decision to remove Westbrook from the starting lineup also suggests the Purple and Gold will soon reengage in talks over a potential trade for the 2017 NBA MVP, hoping they could swap his expiring $47.1 million contract for extra role players.

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