Lakers hire former Kobe Bryant agent Rob Pelinka for GM role next to Magic Johnson
Former agent brings clout and understanding of the NBA world to job with serious pressures
Tuesday was a whirlwind for Lakers fans. It began as the team relieved longtime general manager Mitch Kupchak of his duties, as well as part-owner Jim Buss as executive vice president of basketball operations, formally.
At his press conference, Johnson said he was looking for someone with an understanding of the salary cap and CBA, and who brought an “outside the box” perspective. He got his man later that afternoon as both media outlets and clients of agent Rob Pelinka confirmed that Pelinka will be taking over Kupchak’s role as general manager of the Lakers.
The move is the second in the past few seasons of agents moving into front office roles, following Arn Tellem’s transition to a role with the Pistons in 2015. Pelinka, of course, is most well known for having represented Lakers star Kobe Bryant. James Harden, Eric Gordon, Chris Bosh, Avery Bradley and Andre Iguodala are all current Pelinka clients.
The move puts an experienced hand in the front office and lets Johnson focus on both big picture concerns and trying to land star free agents, the areas he can have the most impact. Think of Johnson as the figurehead with executive power, and Pelinka managing the day-to-day concerns. Agents, of course, bring an understanding of player desires and interests, as well as a firm grasp of the league’s power structure, and the legalese needed to navigate not just contracts but the complexities of the NBA’s CBA for transactional purposes.
Still, Pelinka enters with no managerial experience in terms of franchises. The Lakers are now in the hands of two novices when it comes to their roles, tasked with returning the team to its former glory, and taking over just two days before the NBA trade deadline. It should be fascinating to see which direction the new braintrust leads the team, and whether they can succeed where longtime heads Kupchak and Buss failed. Pelinka, 47, may be new to his role, but has a well-established history of success in the NBA sphere.
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