HoopsHype Ronnie Lester rumors

April 5, 2014 Updates

Jackson maintained a healthy distance from the various personnel men he worked with during his two stints with the Lakers, which is why there are no L.A. execs of recent vintage who strike you as an instant nominee. Ex-Lakers official and current Suns scout Ronnie Lester has been mentioned, but Lester and Jackson don't have anything resembling the sort of bond that the Zen Master has with the likes of Kurt Rambis, Scottie Pippen, Ron Harper and the still-active Derek Fisher. The reality, though, is that those four Phil disciples don't possess the sort of experience and/or proven front-office versatility that Jackson could surely use to lean on. ESPN.com

June 6, 2013 Updates
April 24, 2013 Updates
June 9, 2012 Updates
February 4, 2012 Updates

Note that I did not include the Lakers in the list of five organizations that could be headed for turmoil. According to a person directly involved in the Lakers' decision-making, speculation that GM Mitch Kupchak is on the way out is premature. Privately, Kupchak is said to be seething over the Lakers' decision to unceremoniously dismiss assistant GM Ronnie Lester and nearly all the scouts who worked under him. But there have been no indications that Kupchak, a shrewd architect of the Lakers' run of championship success, is angling for a departure. CBSSports.com

December 8, 2011 Updates

In a lockout-shortened season, the Lakers will be short-handed in their front office. The team won't fill the spot vacated by former assistant general manager Ronnie Lester, whose contract expired in July. Lester was integral in evaluating college players and was a solid sounding board for General Manager Mitch Kupchak. The Lakers are also cutting back their scouting department after employing six scouts in July. The team will use a three-man staff partly made up of Jerry West's son Ryan and owner Jerry Buss' son Jesse. Los Angeles Times

November 4, 2011 Updates

Ronnie Lester, the team’s longtime assistant GM groomed by Jerry West, had his say after being laid off back in the summer. Recently, it’s been former assistant coach Brian Shaw who has opened up about Jim’s eagerness to distance the team from the highly successful era of coach Phil Jackson. Clever and coy in dealing with Jim while dating sister Jeanie Buss over the past decade, Jackson upon stepping down last spring finally fired several shots at Jimmy boy. Jackson had long indicated he had no relationship with Jim Buss and not much of one with Jerry, while insiders in the Lakers organization said Jackson obviously had no respect for Jim. Jackson has long been known as a tough political player from his stormy days with the Bulls, but you could hardly blame him for not wanting to kiss up to Jim. HoopsHype

Jackson’s friends had long pointed out behind the scenes that Jim was the driving factor in Jackson’s 2004 dismissal as Lakers coach and it was Jim who moved unilaterally to make the disastrous Rudy Tomjanovich hire that cost the team millions. “The Lakers will be a disaster when Phil leaves the franchise,” one of Jackson’s associates predicted a few years back. “Jim’s biggest move is to put his personal bartender on the team payroll. Jim never comes around the franchise, doesn’t even have an office there.” HoopsHype

November 1, 2011 Updates

One week after hearing that message, Shaw received a visit from Kupchak. Shaw said he did most of the talking in order to emphasize that he wasn't questioning the Lakers' decision to hire Brown, and to let Kupchak know that Shaw had been trying to protect the organization by not publicizing the Lakers' neglect of him. "Personally, I don't have anything against Mitch, and he apologized for how everything was handled," Shaw said. "I made it very clear that I was not very happy with the way that I was handled, especially having to shield all of the requests for interviews because I didn't want it to come off the wrong way. I know Ronnie Lester, when he did an interview he kind of blasted the [organization] -- there's a whole lot of stuff that a whole lot of people wanted to say, and Ronnie said some stuff that needed to be said. But at that time, because it was still so new and so raw, if I would have got started [talking publicly], it probably would have been bad." SI.com

July 23, 2011 Updates

Some were told their contracts would not be renewed and some were laid off. All told, about 20 Lakers employees are, or soon will be, looking for jobs, including some of Phil Jackson's former coaching staff. It was the manner in which they were let go by one of the most successful and profitable franchises in the NBA that bothered Lester. "You think of the Lakers and you think they are a great organization," Lester said. "But if you work inside the organization, it's only a perception of being a great organization. It's probably not a great organization, because great organizations don't treat their personnel like they've done." Los Angeles Times

Lester was asked whether it was true that Jim Buss has taken Jackson's former office, which would imply that Buss will be around more. "Jim Buss is not around much," Lester said. "The only time he is here consistently is a week or two before the draft." Los Angeles Times

July 2, 2011 Updates

He was on his way to a storage unit when I called. That's the only destination in front of him that's certain at the moment. The storage unit, then Chicago at the end of the summer. Maybe. This hasn't been a good year so far. Already he's lost his job, gotten divorced and sold his house. The team he helped assemble underachieved and got swept out of the second round of the playoffs. And yet the Los Angeles Lakers assistant general manager Ronnie Lester considers himself one of the lucky ones. ESPN.com

Barring a last-minute change of heart, Lester's 24-year run with the Lakers will end when his contract expires this month. By then, at least 20 other Lakers staffers, including almost all of the scouts who work under Lester in the basketball operations department, will have already packed their belongings and headed home. They've been told little by the team, except employees whose contracts expire on or after June 30 would not have their contracts renewed, and their jobs may or may not open up again down the line. "I'm not worried about myself, I'm worried about the other people on our staff that are really good and have young families and mortgages," Lester said. "I'll land on my feet, but those guys who aren't as established, I think they're in a little trouble." ESPN.com

It's still weird for him to speak about the Lakers in past tense. He's been a Laker nearly half of his 52 years. In another month he'll start figuring out what he'll be next. He's grateful to the Lakers for hiring him as a scout back in 1987 and everything that came after. But he's confused about why it's ending this way. "It's awful funny that the Lakers, one of the highest grossing teams in the league, could do this to their employees, just throw them out in the cold," he said. ESPN.com

June 8, 2011 Updates

Lakers Assistant General Manager Ronnie Lester has sold his Manhattan Beach home for $1.65 million. The Mediterranean-style house, built in 2002, has a two-story-tall living room, a formal dining room and a family room that opens to the kitchen and back lawn. Including a guest suite and a master suite with a vaulted ceiling and a fireplace, the house has a total of five bedrooms and five bathrooms in the nearly 4,300 square feet. Los Angeles Times

May 26, 2011 Updates

The revolving door for the Los Angeles Lakers franchise is ready to start turning. On the same day Mike Brown agreed in principle to a four-year, $18.25 million deal to replace Phil Jackson as the next coach of the Lakers, multiple sources told ESPNLosAngeles.com that assistant general manager Ronnie Lester will not be brought back when his contract expires at the end of June. Lester just completed his 10th season as assistant GM, serving under general manager Mitch Kupchak. The 52-year-old Lester's relationship with the team spans more than 25 years dating back to the 1984-85 season when he signed as a free agent and played the final two seasons of his injury-shortened NBA career with the Lakers, winning a championship in 1985. ESPN.com

Roland Lazenby, author of "Jerry West: The Life And Legend Of A Basketball Icon," published by ESPN Books in 2009, first reported the Lester ouster via his Twitter account. Apart from Lester, the Lakers have also informed more than a dozen scouts, training staff members and video staff personnel that their contracts will not be renewed when they expire at the end of June as well, as first reported by the Los Angeles Times. ESPN.com

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