Prior to being named general manager of the Los Angeles Lakers in 2017, Rob Pelinka served as one of the more notable agents in the NBA for over a decade, having represented the likes of Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and Derek Fisher, among others.
Pelinka’s previous connections with some of the biggest names in the league made him an intriguing, out-of-the-box GM hiring for the Lakers. Not only that, but his knowledge on the business aspect of the league makes him a perfect pairing with president of basketball operations Magic Johnson.
Now entering his most crucial offseason yet, Pelinka discussed the differences between being an agent and general manager and why he believes prior experience will be beneficial for the Lakers, via ESPN:
“Twenty years of representing players. I asked Kobe at the end of his career, I said, ‘What’s something you learned in terms of relating to your teammates and winning all the championships?’ He said, ‘The biggest word for me was empathy.’ I think I’ve been able to have empathy with the agent community because I walked in their shoes for 20 years. We want to be an organization that serves those relationships. And understanding the agent lens, I think has helped Earvin and I position ourselves to have really strong relationships throughout the league.”
Pelinka also noted that he evaluates players differently as a general manager, whereas as an agent, he only focused on a specific amount of players:
“There’s a lot of crossover, because at the end of the day when you’re an agent, you know you’re only going to represent a guy or two in the draft so you’re having to be very selective where you invest your time. I think probably the biggest difference when you’re a GM, a front office person, you’re thinking about the chemistry component. ‘How does Kyle Kuzma fit with our other pieces? How does Josh Hart fit in to our overall template.’ Where as an agent, you’re just trying to pick a player you know is going to make it.”
In Pelinka’s first full year at the helm as general manager, the Lakers accomplished their biggest goal in clearing enough salary cap space to pursue and potentially sign two max-contract free agents this summer.
Moreover, the young core showed tremendous growth that could pay dividends when the front office attempts to lure free agents to Los Angeles.
That has led Pelinka to feel confident that the Lakers have taken the necessary steps of once again becoming a championship-caliber team.