Lakers Rumors: LA Won't Fill President Role After Magic Johnson Resignation

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 17, 2019

FILE - In this July 11, 2018, file photo, Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka speaks at a news conference at the NBA basketball team's headquarters in El Segundo, Calif. The  Lakers say they have mutually agreed to part ways with coach Luke Walton after three losing seasons. Pelinka announced Walton's departure Friday, April 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)
Reed Saxon/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Lakers won't hire a new president of basketball operations, according to ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne.

The position has been open since Magic Johnson's abrupt resignation in April. General manager Rob Pelinka will report directly to team owner Jeanie Buss, rather than to a president.

Pelinka won't be the only person who advises Buss. ESPN's Ohm Youngmisuk reported Kurt and Linda Rambis will offer their insight as well.

This development isn't entirely surprising. Shortly after Johnson's departure, Shelburne reported Pelinka was safe as the GM and that "if anything, his power will grow."

Doubling down on Pelinka is risky, though.

The Lakers made a mess of their pursuit of the New Orleans Pelicans' Anthony Davis ahead of the Feb. 7 trade deadline. The Los Angeles Times' Broderick Turner reported the team was prepared to part with almost all of its best young players to land the six-time All-Star.

The swirl of rumors seemed to sow division in the Lakers locker room, and ESPN's Brian Windhorst speculated that was the Pelicans' plan all along.

Before that, Pelinka did a poor job of building around LeBron James, surrounding him with aging playmakers instead of shooters who could space the floor. Acquiring Reggie Bullock and Mike Muscala in the middle of the season was a tacit acknowledgment that the strategy had backfired, and it cost the Lakers center Ivica Zubac, who played well with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Pelinka also made missteps in the team's head-coaching search, per The Athletic's Bill Oram, as the Lakers missed out on their top two candidates before hiring Frank Vogel with Jason Kidd as a lead assistant. The team didn't make a strong run at Monty Williams before he went to the Phoenix Suns and then mishandled negotiations with Tyronn Lue.

When the Lakers built a championship winner in the 1980s and then again in the early 2000s, Jerry West oversaw everything in the front office. The absence of a similarly authoritative voice shows in the team's current internal dysfunction.

Perhaps Pelinka can fill that void, but his tenure hasn't provided much reason for optimism.

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