A month after the 2018-19 NBA season ended, the Los Angeles Lakers eventually hired head coach Frank Vogel and assistant coach Jason Kidd.
While the Lakers firing head coach Luke Walton was expected, no one could have predicted president of basketball operations Magic Johnson resigning.
As the Lakers can finally shift their focus to the 2019 NBA Draft and free agency, there are still more questions than answers. Outside of a social media post of owner Jeanie Buss and Johnson having dinner together to discuss the team’s head coaching search, they have remained extremely quiet which has caused unrest among the fanbase.
Although general manager Rob Pelinka reportedly is running the front office now, it appears senior basketball advisor Kurt Rambis ‘orchestrated’ the Vogel and Kidd hirings, according to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report:
According to a person familiar with the negotiations, it wasn’t general manager Rob Pelinka but senior basketball adviser Kurt Rambis who orchestrated the Vogel hiring. He also made the move for Jason Kidd, who will serve on the bench as an assistant coach.
As a result, an anonymous executive has called Rambis the ‘shadow’ president of basketball operations, according to Pincus:
One executive even called him the Lakers’ “shadow president.”
Since Johnson’s resignation, there was hope the Lakers would consider someone like Golden State Warriors president of basketball operations Bob Myers as his replacement. However, Buss’ current plan reportedly involves Pelinka running the team’s front office — despite conflicting reports about his reputation around the league.
In addition to Pelinka, there have been questions about Rambis’ role moving forward. As Rambis returned to the Lakers at the start of the season, there have been multiple reports about him emerging as a ‘powerful voice’ within the organization and this provides another example.
Although professional teams hiring new head coaches is extremely common, Los Angeles’ hiring process was criticized every step of the way. From only offering a three-year deal instead of the standard five to choosing the head coach’s coaching staff, the Lakers eventually found Vogel who was willing to accept those terms.
With the offseason starting May 14 at the 2019 NBA Draft Lottery, it will be interesting to see if the Lakers can improve the roster around LeBron James — especially with Pelinka and Rambis in charge after all that has already transpired in the last month.