The Los Angeles Lakers moved swiftly in their decision to higher powerhouse agent Rob Pelinka as general manager following their February front office purge, which claimed the roles of Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak. And yet, after all that midseason ado, Pelinka’s role was never made official.
The Lakers confirmed the Pelinka hire on Tuesday in a team statement:
The Los Angeles Lakers have named Rob Pelinka as General Manager, it was announced today.
Pelinka, 47, joins the Lakers after spending the greater part of two decades representing many of the NBA’s top talent. During his tenure as an agent, Pelinka was named by Forbes Magazine as one of the Top 10 Sports Agents in the World. In his role, Pelinka will report to Lakers Governor Jeanie Buss and President of Basketball Operations, Earvin “Magic” Johnson.
“We have worked closely with Rob for many years and have first-hand experience with his knowledge of the league and the business of basketball,” said Buss. “In our recent discussions, it was clear that he also shares our goal of returning the Lakers to being an elite NBA franchise. Together with Earvin and Coach Walton, I believe we are in a great position to bring winning basketball back to the Lakers.”
“Rob’s knowledge of the NBA landscape and the CBA, as well as his relationships with GMs around the league, are invaluable,” said Johnson. “After running a successful sports agency and as someone who truly understands the inner workings of salary caps and player negotiations, he will bring the additional skills and experience needed in the Lakers executive office. Rob is a winner and the Lakers are fortunate to have him.”
Kobe Bryant, a client of Pelinka’s, was naturally thrilled:
No one knows the business of basketball more than @robpelinka. I wish him & the Lakers much success as they bring winning bball back to LA.
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) March 7, 2017
Lakers fans have a license to share in his joy. The sweeping front office changes were ill-timed, best done at the beginning of this season or after it, and Pelinka is a neophyte executive. But he’s plugged in with players and other agents. He knows how rival teams work and think. If the Lakers’ goal was to gain cachet, to recapture respectability, among the free-agent ranks, Pelinka, along with Magic Johnson, helps drive up their curb appeal to the outside eye.
Of course, that’s only part of the Lakers’ process. They have a promising young core in place, with another top-three selection on the way. Hitting on the draft will be paramount to their future success, especially with Luol Deng’s and Timofey Mozgov’s deals clogging up the financial pipeline for another three years after this one.
Still, everything else aside, you have to like the Lakers’ chances of becoming relevant in the free agent market with Pelinka at the helm. Suddenly, the idea of them poaching Paul George in free agency during the summer of 2018 doesn’t seem so farfetched. And if it wasn’t farfetched to begin with, as some will point out, it feels almost like a foregone conclusion now—or at least a move of that caliber does, whenever it comes.