The Los Angeles Lakers were taken aback when Magic Johnson suddenly stepped down as president of basketball operations.
Since then, the Lakers have yet to hire a replacement for Johnson and in their search for a new head coach, general manager Rob Pelinka has taken control.
In fact, it has been reported that Pelinka’s power within the organization could increase moving forward. There have been reports the Lakers could go after someone such as Golden State Warriors president of basketball operations Bob Myers to replace Johnson, but a recent report suggests that Pelinka could simply be elevated and run the entire front office.
Whether that would be the right move remains to be seen, but many doubt whether or not Pelinka is capable of doing so. According to Sam Amick and Bill Oram of The Athletic, a large number of executives around the league have issues with Pelinka:
It depends on whom you ask, but the vast majority of agents and executives polled by The Athletic have serious doubts. Pelinka has no shortage of detractors around the league, with the issues raised ranging from his trustworthiness to his communication style and relatability.
However, while some question Pelinka on a number of levels, others are on the other end of the spectrum in their dealings with the Lakers general manager:
But there are also respected power brokers who say they’ve had functional and positive experiences dealing with Pelinka, and who believe that his background as a player (he went to two Finals Fours with those Fab Five Michigan teams), attorney and prominent agent who built and ran his own agency is a fit for the Lakers. What’s more, Pelinka was widely known to be handling the lion’s share of the daily duties before Johnson’s departure. He was, in essence, running the front office already.
Even getting to this point is something Pelinka dreamed about nearly 20 years ago as Kobe Bryant revealed and now the former agent could potentially rise even higher than he ever could’ve imagined. But in order to succeed in this role, he has to be able work with the other executives around the league.
These conflicting reports about how Pelinka operates is concerning, but can also be due to any number of factors. Regardless of his official title, it is clear that Pelinka will play a major role in the front office moving forward, so the success of the franchise will be on his shoulders.