Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka have been grouped together over the last two years as the top decision-makers in the Lakers‘ front office, but Pelinka won’t follow Johnson out the door following Magic’s resignation.
League sources tell ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that the Lakers’ general manager will keep his job — if anything, Pelinka’s power will grow, Shelburne adds. That doesn’t necessarily mean the the franchise won’t seek out a new president of basketball operations, but after being caught off guard by Johnson’s announcement, the Lakers sound prepared to enter the offseason with Pelinka running the show.
Johnson revealed during his impromptu press conference on Tuesday night that he hadn’t informed owner Jeanie Buss of his decision to resign before announcing it publicly, and Buss wasn’t the only one surprised by the news. Shelburne reports that Pelinka also didn’t know it was coming and that LeBron James was “stunned” by the decision. However, LeBron stands behind Buss and the Lakers’ front office, a source tells Shelburne.
Here’s more on the Lakers:
- Head coach Luke Walton participated in exit meetings with players on Wednesday, sources tell Shelburne. That doesn’t mean that Walton is safe, but all indications are that he has a better chance of retaining his job with Johnson out of the picture.
- Asked today about his level of interest in returning to the Lakers in free agency this summer, Reggie Bullock responded, “Very high. I love this city” (Twitter link via Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times).
- With little else to play for as the season neared an end, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was auditioning for his next NBA job down the stretch, writes Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. “Man, I’m just out there playing,” Caldwell-Pope said earlier this week. “Yes, I’ll be looking for a job for next season, but my job right now is to play my best basketball for the Lakers and then we’ll see where things stand.” KCP enjoyed his best stretch of the season in the final month, averaging 19.9 PPG in his last 16 games, including 23.3 PPG in the last seven.
- While Lakers fans may have been frustrated by the deadline trade that saw Mike Muscala acquired for Ivica Zubac and Michael Beasley, Muscala hasn’t exactly had the time of his life since the deal either, writes Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. “I guess these last few games have gone well for us, but I’m still kinda disappointed with how I played,” the veteran big man said. “…It’s kind of been a frustrating season for me, but there were still some opportunities. So I gotta focus on that. Injuries are a part of the game. You never want to use that as an excuse. I’ve always dealt with ankle injuries, and I know how to deal with them.”