The Los Angeles Lakers have a relatively new regime running the team, with the group of head coach Luke Walton, general manager Rob Pelinka, president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and owner Jeanie Buss attempting to work in concert to propel the franchise forward.
So far the results have been pretty good, despite the relative inexperience in their current roles from everyone but Buss. The Lakers are 11-21 after sniffing around playoff contention earlier in the season, and boast the league’s seventh-best defensive efficiency as well.
With a roster full of players more inexperienced than the current front office, it’s fair to project that the team is firmly on an upward trajectory. That’s an outlook that applies to the front office as well, as Pelinka highlighted the positive dynamic between himself and the rest of the Lakers’ power circle, via Sam Amick of USA Today:
“I would say there’s a really full and strong circle that operates between (owner) Jeanie Buss, Magic, myself and (coach) Luke (Walton). I think those four pieces of the circle, the flow just has to be there all the time, and so far it’s a hundred percent. It has just been amazing. And all of us work to have daily and weekly communication flow to make sure we’re all feeling the same way. Sometimes there’s points where there’s respectful disagreement, and I actually welcome that, because if everyone is just shaking their heads and saying, ‘Yeah, let’s do this and let’s do that,’ (it’s not productive). There’s a real healthy, um, times of agreement and harmony, and then times of ‘No, how about this? We could go this way.’ But with all things Lakers, the flow in that circle is really tight.
The front-office circle wasn’t always tight. Buss had a cold relationship with Pelinka and Johnson’s predecessors, her brother Jim Buss and longtime general manager Mitch Kupchak. She reportedly hired Pelinka and Johnson in large part because of her strong dynamics with them, which seems to be working out so far.
The alliance between Johnson, Pelinka and Walton had the potential to be awkward because the former two didn’t hire the latter. But the Lakers’ power circle seems to have seamlessly navigated those waters as well, as Johnson and Pelinka have often professed their support and admiration for the work Walton is doing with their developing roster.
The first step in building a championship organization is having a strong culture of support and understanding between ownership, management and coaching, something that’s seen in perennial contenders like the San Antonio Spurs and more recently the Golden State Warriors.
The Lakers also seemed to have bottled that for a while under the late Jerry Buss, and appear to have recaptured it under his daughter. Championship contention is still a ways away, but Pelinka’s words make it seem like the Lakers are on the right path.
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