Rob Pelinka Rumors
Tania Ganguli: One thing to remember in the LaVar Ball discussion is that his statements do matter to the organization. That’s not my opinion, it’s theirs. Rob Pelinka and Magic Johnson would not have met with him in November if his comments didn’t matter.
Luke Walton: “As I preach to my players that control what you can control in life, that has to be my philosophy as a coach as well… [Team president Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka] have been great, they have been supportive. They obviously understand where we are at as a team and what we are trying to do and what the big picture is…”
Before the draft, in front of all the NBA’s GMs and top scouts, Kuzma helped himself at the league combine when he made four of five three-pointers in a game. But some scouts considered that an aberration. Not Magic Johnson, the Lakers’ new president, or Rob Pelinka, their first-time GM, as they went into their first draft and needed to hit in big since taking over the basketball operations three months earlier. In a rebuilding campaign, they took Ball at No. 2 overall, believing that even with his funky shot and problems defending quicker point guards, he’d be the floor leader they needed, a player other players wanted to play with, and the kind of rare talent who could make his teammates better.
So there’s so much noise about LaVar, and all the questions about how you guys see that situation, that I think an honest perspective internally on how you see that situation might have some value to it. How do you see that? Is it something that you have to handle? (Editor’s note: While Pelinka didn’t share it at the time, it was later revealed that he and president of basketball operations, Magic Johnson, met with LaVar just two days prior to discuss the importance of keeping a positive discourse). Rob Pelinka: “Yeah, I think. I told you at the beginning (of our conversation) that I’m grateful that I have a context because I had a basketball Dad, and every basketball Dad thinks their son is a hundred times better than the best player to ever play the game. That’s just the nature of being a parent. And now, we live in an age where there’s microphones and phone cameras everywhere and so stuff gets shared, which is different than when you played basketball or I played basketball. It’s just the reality of it, but I think it gave me a sense of understanding in who he is and then Magic and I have worked hard to develop a relationship with him and (his wife) Tina, who is making her way back (from a stroke). But in terms of our vision, and the work we have to do to move the Lakers forward, it isn’t really affected by any of that.”
But Pelinka, who represented Kobe for 18 of his 20 years in the NBA and also had former Lakers Derek Fisher and Trevor Ariza as clients, was also someone she knew and trusted. What’s more, the fact he didn’t work for an NBA team meant Jeanie could recruit him without seeking the kind of formal permission that would have tipped off Jim Buss and Kupchak to her plan. “We were having lunch one day, just casually – and she (says), ‘Well, Magic is amazing at casting the vision, and big picture stuff, but I need a cap expert; I need someone who understands the business of the NBA, someone who can implement his vision,’ and she was like, ‘Someone like you, Rob,’” Pelinka remembered. “From there, it was just like a light bulb went on for everybody and it just unfolded.”