Ronnie Lester Rumors
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.
The Phoenix Suns today announced a series of moves within the team’s basketball operations department. Pat Connelly has been named to the role of Assistant General Manager and Trevor Bukstein has been promoted to Assistant General Manager. Ronnie Lester has been named a scout and Emilio Kovacic has been named International Scouting Consultant. John Treloar will remain the team’s Director of Player Personnel; John Shumate and Bubba Burrage remain scouts.
Babby would like for the Suns to tab a new GM before addressing the coaching situation, although he did call interim head coach Lindsey Hunter “a good strong candidate.” The GM search began this week with the Suns considering Milwaukee assistant GM Jeff Weltman (a finalist in 2010 when Blanks was hired), former Indiana Pacers GM and Arizona graduate David Morway and former Lakers assistant GM Ronnie Lester. Assistant GMs Ryan McDonough (Boston), Wes Wilcox (Atlanta) and Troy Weaver (Oklahoma City) are potential candidates too.
Indiana Pacers General Manager David Morway, former Lakers assistant general manager Ronnie Lester, Golden State Warriors assistant general manger Travis Schlenk, Detroit Pistons assistant general manager Scott Perry and former Minnesota Timberwolves assistant general manager Tony Ronzone all have been viewed as good candidates if the Clippers decided to look their way, the executives said.
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.
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.
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.”