After Magic Johnson stepped away from the the Los Angeles Lakers’ front office, it is now reportedly unlikely that the organization will hire a high-profile replacement.
According to Sam Amick, in fact, the Lakers did not reach out to former Cleveland Cavaliers general manager David Griffin before he accepted a position with the New Orleans Pelicans (via The Athletic):
“Rob [Pelinka] is firmly in power. I can speak to the fact that the Lakers did not reach out to Dave Griffin regarding their opening, which is very telling to me. Because [he was] arguably the top executive on the market and [he is] a guy with championship history regarding LeBron [James]. I think it’s very telling they didn’t make that phone call.”
The organization is moving forward in its coaching search and has meetings lined up with former Cleveland head coach Ty Lue as well as Philadelphia assistant Monty Williams. They have also been granted permission to speak with Miami assistant Juwan Howard.
But if and when the hire is made by Pelinka, it’s hard to imagine someone else having much desire to step into the President of Basketball Operations role without providing their input on such a decision.
Marc Stein shared a similar sentiment when discussing other top candidates around the league (via New York Times):
“In numerous rival organizations, there is both shock and relief that the Lakers haven’t responded to events of the past week by chasing the likes of Golden State’s Bob Myers, San Antonio’s RC Buford and Oklahoma City’s Sam Presti before they go looking for a new coach.”
Myers recently laughed off the idea of leaving the defending NBA champion Warriors to join the Lakers.
Meanwhile, Miami Heat president and former Lakers coach Pat Riley is another high-profile potential candidate that won’t even consider the notion of leaving his post in South Beach to try and revamp the lowly Lakers.
Here is what he said at his end-of-season press conference (via The Athletic):
“I mean, I’m not going to comment on another team’s misfortune while they’re going through some adversity right now. There’s no doubt that I have a history with that team. I was there for 20 years and I have a lot of friends still in the organization. I had a good conversation with Magic after he stepped down and I’m sure they’ll work it out. I’m not going to be part of that. That’s not what I want to do.”
The Minnesota Timberwolves are reportedly targeting L.A. Clippers general manager Michael Winger and have been granted permission to speak with him about becoming their President of Basketball Operations. But the Lakers have not been linked to the crosstown executive, even in passing.
Ultimately, it seems as if there will be no one ahead of Pelinka on the totem pole. Unless there is a late push for an executive currently in the playoffs like the Toronto Raptors’ Masai Ujiri or the Portland Trail Blazers’ Neil Olshey, Pelinka seems destined for even more control of the franchise.