Tuesday saw the Los Angeles Lakers make shocking changes to the team’s front office. General manager Mitch Kupchak was relieved of his duties after almost 36 years with the team. News of Kupchak’s departure wasn’t the only surprising news to come out of Los Angeles, as Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Jim Buss was also terminated. Lakers fans and media alike saw this coming in the future, but to make this decision with 24 games remaining in the season came as a shock to all involved.
GM Mitch Kupchak has been relieved of his duties and Jim Buss will no longer be EVP of Basketball Operations. 2/2
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) February 21, 2017
Lakers President Jeanie Buss made the difficult decision and will lead the team going forward, along with a fan favorite. Hall-of-Famer and Lakers legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson was named the new President of Basketball Operations. Johnson is certainly a high profile hire, but he wasn’t the only one. With Kupchak’s departure, the team needed to fill the position of GM as soon as possible. Several names immediately hit social media as fans began to wonder who would fill the extremely important role. The likes of Bob Myers, David Griffin and Sam Presti had been mentioned, but the Lakers went in a surprising direction. The team are set to hire sports agent Rob Pelinka. Few knew the name when mentioned, so here’s everything you need to to know about Pelinka.
Everything You Need to Know About New Lakers GM Rob Pelinka
Who is Rob Pelinka?
Pelinka, 47, is the CEO of the Los Angeles based Landmark Sports Agency, LLC. Attending the University of Michigan, Pelinka obtained both business and law degrees whilst playing on the famous Fab Five Michigan team. Known for his brains, Pelinka achieved a 3.9 GPA in college. Pelinka’s Landmark Sports Agency has negotiated almost $400 million worth of contracts, working with some high profile NBA players along the way. The likes of Kobe Bryant, James Harden and Chris Bosh have all been Pelinka clients. In Pelinka, the Lakers have a successful, well educated basketball mind with a lot of connections in the NBA world.
Lakers are finalizing a multi-year agreement with agent Rob Pelinka as general manager, league sources tell @TheVertical. He'll start soon.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) February 21, 2017
Kobe Bryant Must Have Played a Role
Pelinka’s most high profile client is easily Bryant. With the Lakers legend knowing and trusting the team’s new GM, it’s fair to say the five-time NBA champion had some involvement. Bryant had reportedly met with Johnson and Buss for dinner on more than one occasion over the last few weeks. One can only imagine talks about the recent overhaul must have taken place. Kobe should continue to have a presence on the outskirts of the team environment. In fact, with the Johnson and Pelinka hires we could potentially see Bryant return to team in one way or another, sometime in the future.
What are Pelinka’s Responsibilities?
Pelinka will be in charge of making trades and the every day running of the organization. Making and being involved in trades will be nothing new for Pelinka. Pelinka will answer directly to Johnson. Meaning Johnson must be informed, when it comes to the big decisions. With the Lakers struggling the way they are, Pelinka and Johnson have a difficult challenge ahead of them. If you look at where Pelinka has come from, that being the sports agency field, Pelinka is well suited to his new role.
In Pelinka’s former industry, the focus of an agent is to be very well informed and knowledgeable. Focusing on not just NBA players, but college players also. The Lakers will now have two first-round draft picks in 2017, Pelinka will need to replicate Kupchak’s recent good fortune in the draft. This upcoming draft is stacked with talent, this is something the Lakers will look to take advantage of.
Pelinka Needs Time
The Lakers haven’t officially confirmed the Pelinka hiring. As reported above by Adrian Wojnarowski, the team is finalizing the deal. Pelinka needs to divest from his clients before officially holding the role of general manager. This shouldn’t take too long, but as we saw on Tuesday night, Johnson is currently in charge of trading as the trade deadline approaches. The Lou Williams trade is a sign that the Lakers are looking towards the draft. The deal which Johnson made on Tuesday night gives Pelinka another pick to play with come draft night. When Pelinka can officially take over as GM, his first decision will be whether or not the team keeps the recently acquired Corey Brewer.
The Lakers future is bright with a chance of clouds. Meaning these hirings are a positive step, but we really won’t know how they will turn out. Johnson brings question marks, and Pelinka has no prior experience as an NBA GM. Lakers fans will once again need to be patient and give an unpredictable leadership duo time to prove themselves.