There’s a lot of bad blood between agents, as we recently wrote in our behind-the-scenes look at the lives of NBA agents. Could that cause problems for Pelinka – or just be really awkward – for Pelinka when it comes time to negotiate against his former rivals? Agent No. 1: “Initially, I thought it was going to be awkward. When they announced that Rob was getting the Lakers’ job, I didn’t know what to think. I had never talked to him – not because there was any bad blood between us, but just because we never had a reason to connect. But ever since the first time that we talked since he took the job, I could not be more of a fan of ‘GM Rob Pelinka.’ He’s amazing. And he’s so considerate because he kind of understands where we’re coming from as agents. He knows our side of the business, and I think actually gives him a leg up in terms of dealing with all of us. He’s been nothing but professional and has done an excellent job with the transition into his new role. With Bob Myers and Justin Zanik, it was the same way. I’ve talked to them a few times since they made the transition from agent to executive. All of those guys are just extremely understanding and more attuned to what we’re dealing with. They also know the language we use, how we operate and how we think. To be honest, I think it actually helps in certain situations. I’m obviously not saying that you need to have agent experience to be an excellent executive, but I don’t think it’s a hindrance in any way.”
What are some of the skills that Pelinka displayed as an agent that could translate to his role as general manager of the Lakers? Agent No. 2: “His ability to understand and interpret the Collective Bargaining Agreement is huge. As an agent, you have to know all of the different rules, you have to understand the business, you have to be able to communicate with people – from players to families to other people around the NBA – and you have to present information well. There’s a sales element to both jobs. Being a GM, there’s obviously recruiting involved. In free agency, you’re meeting with players and giving them your pitch. Well, Rob has been recruiting guys and meeting with players as an agent for a long time. When you’re a GM and you’re offering the same contract as another team, you have to sell your organization, highlight your strengths and be persuasive. It’s very similar to when agents are meeting with potential clients. I think there are a lot of similarities in terms of the skills you need to be successful. I think that’s why a guy like Justin Zanik, who left the agent business to become an executive and is now with Milwaukee, has done so well. He’s a super smart guy and he does the things I mentioned well.”
Do you think Pelinka will be able to attract some of his former clients to Los Angeles? Agent No. 2: “I really think it’s possible. If you’re one of his former clients and you’re a free agent, who are you going to trust most? When five GMs are giving you their pitch, who do you trust the most and believe in the most? All things being equal, you’re probably going to go with the guy you’ve known for a long time and who helped you throughout your career. Could that be an advantage for him? I definitely think it could. Now, at some point, that’s going to run out. Years from now, he’ll have less and less guys in the league. But in the short-term? That’s absolutely an advantage.”
Mark Medina: I'm also told director of player development Rondre Jackson is no longer with the Lakers. bit.ly/2oZ4356
Baxter Holmes: Magic Johnson will be representing the Lakers on stage at the May 16 draft lottery. Lakers GM Rob Pelinka will rep team in the drawing room.
Magic Johnson: We were so honored to receive the prestigious Whitney M. Young Jr. award! pic.twitter.com/31QZl2l6AN
This wasn’t merely about an edge. With a thin-enough chance at 55.8 percent, this was all-important. All Lakerdom will feel their agony if their 46.9 percent chance doesn’t come in at the May 16 lottery. These days the Lakers don’t even do no-brainers, like inviting Jerry West back in a consultant’s role like the one he has with the Warriors. A Lakers insider told me it’s not happening … even though the Lakers are aware West would love to be asked back.
Yes, Bryant had to shoot 50 times to reach 60 points. No one seemed to mind. And yes, he was exhausted, breathing so hard that his teammates wondered if he could keep going, if passing him the ball over and over, setting screens upon screens, would wipe him out before the fourth quarter. Only, he became stronger in the fourth quarter. He made big shots, including two immense 3-pointers to complete an improbable 101-96 comeback victory over the Jazz. An hour later, Bryant stood on the court with his longtime agent, Rob Pelinka, and told him about that 3-pointer with 30 seconds left that secured the victory. No legs, Rob. Nothing left. “Shot it with my arms,” Bryant said.
As much as people want to say, ‘Oh the front office positions are ones of leadership,’ I’ve said before that for Magic and me, this is a position of service. We have to serve our player community so that they can become the best versions of themselves. We have to serve the fans, we have to serve the agent community and media community, and just do a good job. This Lakers brand can inspire so many people when things are going the way they can here. It’s a huge responsibility, and it is different from representing an individual. You see that when you come to work every day; there’s more of a team environment in a lot of the meetings, goals and things we discuss. The team approach that the players have on the court we have to have in the front office, and I see those things flowing together.
And then to the specifics to team building, there are a lot of uncertainties. Do we have our draft pick in June, or do we not? What free agents do extensions? What free agents become true free agents? What players from other teams are teams going to think about trading? There are millions and millions of combinations. It’s almost like a Rubik’s Cube. If you’re trying to solve it, there are many different combinations and turns you could make to get to the end path. You have to really study that board hard and make all the right turns to get there, but there is likely more than one way to get to the end.
Magic Johnson: Rest in peace Charlie Murphy, a very talented writer, actor, and comedian. Condolences to the Murphy Family!
"The choice is the Lakers," she says crisply. Whatever emotion she'd felt these past few months is long gone from her voice. The emotional sludge underlying this family drama isn't a few months old. It's 50 years old. The last three months were just the final act in a play that's been running their whole lives. "I'm really proud of my sister for putting her business hat on," Janie Buss says. "I know how hard it was. My dad's dying wish was to leave the Lakers to all of us and that we would all get along. He'd be sickened if he saw what was going on with my older brothers." (Neither Jim nor Johnny, through his lawyer, responded to repeated requests for comment.)
Jim resigned as a co-trustee and was replaced by Janie, who firmly supported her older sister; the balance of power, and with it the ability to control the management of the trust, had now shifted firmly toward Jeanie. And on April 3, the court formally granted Jeanie's petition to compel the three trustees -- now Jeanie, Janie and Johnny -- to do everything reasonable within their power to ensure she remains the Lakers' controlling owner and a board member for the rest of her life. The war was over with nary a whimper. "This was not what [Dr. Buss] wanted," Jeanie says. "But he did empower me that if there was ever a threat, that I had the power and authority to do this."
Adrian Wojnarowski: Lakers assistant GM Glenn Carraro has resigned, league sources tell @The Vertical. Carraro had been with franchise since 2000.
Ever since the Lakers hired Walton in the 2016 offseason after serving as an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors for the previous two years, Walton said Buss has “been incredible” as she has offered support as they talked in person or via text message. “As a coaching staff, it’s really nice to hear and know,” Walton said. “We can do things that we feel are best for the team and not have to worry for now at least if we’re a part of that future. It’s very comforting to coach that way.”
“It’s a tough spot to be in with the people that hire you aren’t here anymore. Even before that happened, I always had a good relationship with her and have had random talks with her before any of that went down,” Walton said of Jeanie Buss. “She was great with the vision she had, what she saw and the way she sees things playing out. That made it a little easier even before we had official talks after all that stuff went down.”
Jeanie Buss' high-powered attorney says her courtroom victory against her brothers was a "good old-fashioned ass whooping" ... and says Jeanie vows to "bring some glory back to Los Angeles." As we previously reported, Jim and Johnny Buss tried to overthrow Jeanie and gain control of the team -- but Jeanie's legal team, headed by Adam Streisand, shut them down real quick.
Ramona Shelburne: Jeanie Buss tells ESPN: "It's great that we were able to work this out so fast. We've resolved everything clearly and cleanly and now we can get back to work. Laker fans deserve success - and now we can focus again on bringing it to them. "I'm also very happy that my sister Janie is becoming a Trustee of my family's Trust. I love her, I trust her and I'm excited to work alongside her."
Ramona Shelburne: Jeanie Buss: "Now we can get back to work. Laker fans deserve success - and now we can focus again on bringing it to them."
Ramona Shelburne: Jeanie Buss: "I'm also very happy that my sister Janie is becoming a Trustee. I love her, I trust her and I'm excited to work alongside her
Four years after the death of the legendary Jerry Buss, his daughter finally, formally emerged Monday as the powerful leader of Los Angeles’ most powerful sports franchise. The Lakers are now Jeanie Buss’ team. It’s official, it’s indisputable, and it’s for as long as she wants.
Jeanie and brothers Jim and Johnny agreed to a legal stipulation, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, that Jeanie will serve as the Lakers’ controlling owner for as long as the Buss family owns the team. At the same time, Jim, who led the recent attack on Jeanie’s throne, agreed to resign as one of three trustees, surrendering that position to sister Janie, who is Jeanie’s ally. The third trustee is still Johnny, who was also part of the coup but can now count on being outvoted if he decides to challenge his sister again.
Adam Streisand, Jeanie’s attorney who has rescued both local NBA teams after earlier navigating the sale of the Clippers to Steve Ballmer, said the message is clear. “I can’t imagine a more important symbol for Los Angeles pride than the L.A. Lakers,” said Streisand in an interview with The Times. “Now with the Lakers having the ability to focus on the basketball court and not the legal court, I think all Laker fans can breathe a sigh of relief.”
Those optimistic that their replacements, Rob Pelinka and Magic Johnson, can do better aren't alone. The former went on “The Vertical Podcast with Woj” Thursday and explained why he feels as though the Lakers should be an appealing destination for prospective free agents. “This analytic was compelling,” Pelinka said. “More Lakers jerseys have been sold in the world than all other 29 teams combined. Listen, if I'm a player and I'm thinking about my future, and I'm thinking about the megawatt power of the Lakers' brand, all the powder keg of relationships you can form in LA, with entertainment moguls, the legacy of excellence and championships here that the Buss family is going to continue to provide, Magic Johnson's vision, hopefully some of my expertise in trades and managing the cap.
O’Neal’s unveiling validated AEG’s clairvoyance on his accomplishments with the Lakers. But his statue also represents how he reconciled with the Lakers after he was traded to the Miami Heat following the 2004 NBA Finals loss to Detroit. “The Buss family has done a lot for me and we’ve had great times together,” O’Neal said. “We had a million great times and probably one bad time. The million great times are the times we always remember and the times that count.”
Los Angeles Lakers president Jeanie Buss has asked her older brothers Johnny Buss and Jim Buss for assurances they'll vote for her to remain both the controlling owner and a member of the team's board of directors for the rest of her life, according to documents filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday. The documents were in response to a filing by Jim and Johnny's attorneys that affirmed they'd vote her in to the team's board of directors for at least the next year.
In a letter sent to Jeanie Buss and other members of the Lakers' board on Feb. 24, Jim and Johnny proposed a slate of four directors that did not include Jeanie Buss or Joey Buss, who had previously served on the board. Jeanie Buss' lawyers argued in court March 2 that Jim and Johnny are breaching their fiduciary responsibilities as trustees by not including her in the slate of proposed directors.
Well after practice ended on Thursday, Lakers second-year guard D’Angelo Russell sat for a talk with Lakers associate coach Brian Shaw. Russell later stood up to listen to Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Brian Shaw. Throughout those long discussions, one common message emerged on what they want to see from Russell for final 14 games of the 2016-17 season, including when the Lakers (20-48) host the Milwaukee Bucks (33-34) on Friday at Staples Center. “Be aggressive no matter what my role is,” Russell said after Friday’s morning shootaround. “Just be aggressive.”
Pelinka had turned the agency over to employees Brandon Rosenthal, Erika Williams and Day. "She's in the position right now" Harden said. "She's working hard for it." Asked if Day is taking the steps to become certified as an agent with the players association, Harden said, "That's the plan."
While D’Antoni finished with a combined 67-87 record with the Lakers, he dismissed an idea of the front office playing any role in his struggles. “They did everything for me they could possibly do. There’s nothing else to ask of them,” D’Antoni said of Kupchak and Jim Buss. “It was a tough time. We had to deal with a transition period and injuries.”
D’Antoni fielded criticism of whether his system fit the personnel and the team’s poor defense. “Nobody wanted me there in the first place. So the whole atmosphere was toxic. But it had nothing to do with them,” D’Antoni said of Kupchak and Jim Buss. “They were great. They were more than great. Without a doubt, they never wavered. I’m always indebted to Jim and Mitch for getting me back in the coaching realm.”
Arash Markazi: Magic Johnson Sports at LAX is now selling Los Angeles Chargers gear. pic.twitter.com/qXEcwtuXyY
Jerry West was interested in returning to the Lakers, where son Ryan has carved out a useful role with the old and new regime, but, though Jeanie Buss will forever revere Jerry, he didn't match her vision for the future, according to NBA sources. Bryant is loyal to Pelinka, but Bryant is sticking to his personal plan to stay focused on business pursuits rather than maximizing his basketball legend or taking on any actual Lakers role under new management.
Mark Medina: After talking with Pelinka, Luke said he has final say on basketball issues (playing time, strategy) & Pelinka has final say on personnel
Mike Trudell: Magic said he totally understands how frustrated and upset Lakers fans have been w/t last few years, because he’s been just as upset.
Mike Bresnahan: Two weeks ago, Magic said he wanted to hire someone "smarter than him." He just said Pelinka is "teaching me the CBA right now as we speak."
Tania Ganguli: Rob Pelinka charted out potential free agents for the next 5 years, Johnson says. Who would be available, how much they could make.
Tania Ganguli: "We have to get better talent for Luke to coach," Pelinka says. Adds they'll do that while developing young guys. Mentions 3 lottery guys.
Mark Medina: Rob Pelinka said he has "absolutely" talked to Kobe about having possible involvement. Pelinka: "He's 100% behind everything Laker"
At one point, he fielded a call from Kings general manager Vlade Divac inquiring about the Lakers' interest in All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins. Johnson told his former teammate that, as a consultant, he wasn't empowered to answer that kind of question, and he referred Divac to Kupchak. But Johnson never heard another word from the front office, even when the Lakers engaged in discussions with the Kings on Feb. 19.
Divac, who sources say believed he had a very narrow window to trade Cousins before ownership changed its mind, wanted to act quickly and knew he had ownership approval for trades involving the Pelicans' Buddy Hield and the Lakers' Brandon Ingram.
By the time the Lakers got involved, Divac and Pelicans general manager Dell Demps, both in New Orleans for the All-Star Game, had met four or five times in person to discuss a deal, sources told ESPN's Marc Stein. He was negotiating over the phone with Jim Buss and Kupchak -- despite the fact that Johnson was in New Orleans that weekend for ESPN. Jeanie Buss had previously instructed Kupchak and her brother that she was to be consulted if they discussed trades involving any of the Lakers' three recent lottery picks. The only word she got of the Lakers discussions with the Kings --which involved two of those three lottery picks -- came after Jim Buss called Jesse Buss and pressed him for a recommendation on an offer he said would quickly expire. Jesse Buss tried to text Jeanie Buss, but the deadline was fast approaching. Not long after, before Jeanie Buss or Johnson even knew about the Lakers' attempts, the Kings finalized the deal with the Pelicans.
When the Lakers worked out Larry Sanders, a free-agent big man with a history of depression and substance-abuse issues, Johnson wasn't informed or consulted. Jim Buss had scheduled a meeting with Johnson and Kupchak for the Monday after the All-Star Game, but it seemed that would be the first time Johnson would really get to talk to them about strategy. As far as Jeanie Buss was concerned, it was already too late.
Bryant is too fresh off his playing career and deep into his business pursuits. But it's worth noting that he met with Buss and Rambis in February to give his opinion on the state of the franchise. He also advocated for Pelinka, his former agent, who will take over as the Lakers general manager. That left Johnson, who was probably Buss' first choice, anyway. He reached out to check on her after the announcement that her engagement to Jackson was off. They planned to have dinner, and the rest happened quickly. When you've been operating without trust for so long, it makes the desire for it even stronger -- and there are few people in the world whom Buss trusts more than Johnson.
“She’s got by far the strongest side of the argument,” the person said. “She needs to press her advantage, clarify this and get it out of the way. “Ultimately, it comes down to money. If somebody wanted to buy the brothers out, I’m sure there’s a price.”
A person with direct knowledge of the situation who spoke on the condition they not be identified said the tension between the siblings has been building since last fall. The person said scenarios including buying out the brothers’ stakes in the team or borrowing money on their behalf were discussed before the matter became public.
The person with direct knowledge of the situation called the $25-million distribution “highly unusual.” Among the other action items: amending the bylaws to indemnify directors and barring the controlling owner and others from purging emails.
“I am beyond grateful to join the Lakers front office,” said Pelinka. “The Lakers are a gold standard for sports franchises in the world, so we all share a responsibility to pursue excellence in everything we do. Excellence is what the Lakers stands for, what Jeanie Buss and Earvin Johnson embody, and what Coach Walton demands from our players. That obsession for greatness is what will bring Lakers basketball back to a championship level. With Jeanie and Magic guiding the vision, I am thrilled to help architect the future. I am really excited to get to work.”
“We have worked closely with Rob for many years and have first-hand experience with his knowledge of the league and the business of basketball,” said Buss. “In our recent discussions, it was clear that he also shares our goal of returning the Lakers to being an elite NBA franchise. Together with Earvin and Coach Walton, I believe we are in a great position to bring winning basketball back to the Lakers.”
“Rob’s knowledge of the NBA landscape and the CBA, as well as his relationships with GMs around the league, are invaluable,” said Johnson. “After running a successful sports agency and as someone who truly understands the inner workings of salary caps and player negotiations, he will bring the additional skills and experience needed in the Lakers executive office. Rob is a winner and the Lakers are fortunate to have him.”
Ramona Shelburne: A group of Lakers fans have started a website to support @Jeanie Buss called "We're With Jeanie" werewithjeanie.com
Johnson beat Bird to it. The phone call lasted less than five minutes, consisted mostly of small talk and might have touched only briefly on the fate of Indiana star Paul George. “I wasn’t motivated to move Paul George at the deadline,” Bird said. “I can’t remember if it was even brought up or not. I don’t think it was. It’s all fake news anyway. You know that. Somebody’s gonna start it and [it] just was a snowball effect. [The phone call] was not about Paul George.”
His advice for Johnson is to understand that. “You can put a team together, what you think’s gonna be a pretty solid team on paper, and then when they get out there they don’t mesh well,” Bird said. “I’m sort of going through that this year. We thought we had a decent team that we thought could compete for the fourth or fifth seed. We haven’t played as well as I thought we would all year. That’s the growing pains. That’s the frustration about it.”
“I’ve been here for, I don’t know how many years, 12, 13, and I haven’t made a deal with Danny Ainge yet,” Bird said. “That should tell you something. I’ve always been closer with Danny, because I played with him for all them years, than Earvin. “Talked to Danny about a lot of trades, but never did one. I just feel it’s gotta be a fair deal for both sides and we never got there. Maybe he thought it was fair, but I didn’t think so.”
Submitting as evidence his own appointment to the Lakers’ coaching job in 1981, or half a lifetime ago, Riley said Magic’s skin color wasn’t the point. At least not the main one. “Welcome to the new seat, whichever seat you just got to sit down in, and to an immediate reaction on both sides of the fence,” he told The Vertical. “With me, it wasn’t as public. There was no internet for it to get picked up on but I heard it within the coaching profession: ‘He didn’t coach in high school, didn’t coach in college, wasn’t prepared. How could he get the most prestigious job in the NBA?’ ” Riley allowed the implicit recognition of the four Showtime championships that followed to marinate for a moment before adding, in a firmer tone: “To adamantly say Earvin is not qualified is nonsense. Like Jerry West, he’s a prodigal son of the Lakers.”
“That’s what happened with the Lakers. Dr. Buss hired West, who established a culture that brought 20 years of winning. West wasn’t afraid to bring in Phil Jackson, but then West left, Phil left, Phil came back, left again, wrote a book criticizing everyone.” In other words, the Lakers began to operate more like the Knicks. When Jerry Buss died in 2013, that left the franchise to the relatively faceless, feeble leadership of his son, Jim. Now Jeanie Buss has won, at least temporarily, an ownership power struggle with her brothers, Jim and Johnny, and she chose Magic. “To me, it’s a no-brainer that Earvin was given that position to capture the attention of the people in L.A. and to try to recapture that sense of continuity,” Riley said.
Among the many things Luke Walton has going for him with this Lakers job, there’s this: he actually talks with Jeanie Buss. Every so often, the 36-year-old coach will pop in to those corner offices at the team’s El Segundo practice facility where Jeanie and her longtime friend, Linda Rambis, work. Walton is nothing if not personable, not to mention savvy, and so the occasional chat with the team president and governor about the state of affairs is something he can certainly handle.
Not that Laker fans should be overly alarmed at the news that Jeanie Buss had to go to court to try to block her brothers, Jim and John, from trying to oust her as head of the franchise. No matter what a judge decides in any future proceeding, Laker fans — and thus, Time Warner execs — will not stand for Jimmy and Johnny, who have never had a real job in their privileged, rich-kid lives, running the franchise. If anyone thinks things have been turbulent, as when fans chanted “We want Phil” at Mike D’Antoni’s debut, that would be like the good old days if Jim and Johnny were ever in charge.
Nevertheless, Jim was far more involved than Johnny, the eldest (he’s 60 to Jim’s 57, Jeanie’s 55 and Janie’s 53) of Jerry’s children with his wife, JoAnn; Joey and Jesse ,whom Jerry had with girlfriend Karem Demel, are 32 and 29, respectively. Johnny raced cars until his father stopped bankrolling him, putting him in charge of the Sparks. The team won two championships in Johnny’s 12 seasons, not that running such a sideshow appeared to appeal to him. He finally tried to get Janie to take over and when she declined, resigned anyway, suggesting it was because they would sell the team. (They didn’t.)
Even if Los Angeles never lands Thomas, the point guard believes the cupboard will not be bare here for long with Magic Johnson now the team’s president of basketball operations. “Some superstar’s going to come here,” Thomas said. “Nah, but it’s good. Magic Johnson is arguably the best Laker ever. So to have him the head of all that and making decisions is a step in the right direction. Everybody respects him. I mean, the Lakers are not going to be, I guess, what they are now forever. He’ll bring some people there.”
Ramona Shelburne: The Lakers have to vote on a board of directors and controlling owner every year. Since 2013 there have been three votes to affirm Jeanie as controlling owner. This years vote has not taken place yet. Last week, the older brothers submitted 4 names for the 3 Buss family spots on the board. The other 2 spots controlled by Phil Anschutz. The names were Jim Buss, Johnny Buss, Dan Beckerman from Anschutz Entertainment Group and Romie Chaudhari. Romie Chaudhari, a property investor who was appointed to the board of Swansea City FC last year, following a boardroom shakeup. None of those names included the Lakers official governor (controlling owner) Jeanie Buss or the Lakers alternate governor, Joey Buss.
Ramona Shelburne: NBA rules state one owner must be designated as a franchise’s controlling owner. Jeanie's lawyer contends the trust states she is the Lakers controlling owner, & therefore, must also always retain a seat on the board. Adam Streisand, Jeanie's lawyer, was also Steve Ballmer's lawyer in the Sterling family trust trial. Jim & Johnny's lawyer Robert Sacks tells ESPN they were never trying oust her as controlling owner. They voted to re-elected her yesterday
Ramona Shelburne: Robert Sacks, lawyer for Jim and Johnny Buss: "Both Jim and Johnny hoped that any issues that might arise would be handled w/in the family. We informed her lawyers orally and in writing that Jim and Johnny fully support Jeanie as the controlling owner of the Lakers. Then inexplicably she then rushed into court saying they’re trying to oust me as the controlling owner. I can tell you, Jim Buss and Johnny Buss, as co-trustees, who vote shares in the Lakers, support Jeanie as the controlling owner. Yesterday both Jim & Johnny Buss signed a formal corporate document that voted trust shares to re-elect Jeanie as controlling owner."
Ramona Shelburne: Long answer: Jim, Johnny and Jeanie are the three trustees for the Buss family trust which owns 66 percent of the Lakers. The older brothers argued they had the votes (2-1) to elect new directors for the team. An emergency meeting was called for March 7. Jeanie's lawyers argued the trust states she's the controlling owner. AND--this is key-- the controlling owner also must be a director. So removing Jeanie Buss as a director would be in violation of the trust's provision that the controlling owner also be a director. Get it?
Ramona Shelburne: This was today. But Jeanie's lawyers pushed for a trial to resolve this once and for all. A trial date has been set for May 15.
“They make a couple good moves, get Dwight (Howard), and it didn’t work out. They were doing the right things ... You have to accept that ‘Ok, we’re not (good), and let’s take baby steps.’ And a lot of times, for New York and Los Angeles, that’s not good enough. “I don’t see (Johnson’s appeal as) being one of the top factors in players deciding whether LA is (for them),” said D’Antoni. “It’s the players they have, the money you’re getting, the role you’re going to have. I see all that way before (the Magic appeal)."
Even with how much he has exerted his influence thus far, Johnson maintained he has his limitations. During the Lakers’ 13th annual All-Access event on Monday at Staples Center, Johnson pledged he would “never interfere” with Lakers coach Luke Walton, “his players and his coaching.” “It’s been really easy. This man is the coach of the Lakers,” Johnson said, pointing to Walton sitting beside him on stage. “I’m not the coach. He is the coach. I sit back and I just watch games, I watch practice. His job is to coach. I may come to him and say, ‘So and so needs to work on this.’ I’ve done that a couple of times. But that’s up to him.”
Pelinka has years of experience sitting on the opposite side of the negotiating table, both battling and collaborating with NBA executives on behalf of his clients. The time spent helping Fisher resolve the 2011 lockout gave him a deeper understanding of the league's complex collective bargaining agreement. "Rob is a master at understanding the CBA. That is the first step of being a quality GM in this league," said former Los Angeles Clippers forward Corey Maggette, now an analyst for Fox Sports. "If he continues to be the person he's always been, a high-character guy, full of integrity and love for the game, he will do fine."
Pelinka helped Bryant get through some of the most difficult years of his career, including the Colorado sexual assault allegations in 2003 (that resulted in a settlement), Bryant's free-agent decision in 2004 and trade demands in 2007. Ultimately, Bryant finished his 20-year career as a Laker and stayed loyal to Pelinka when he branched out to form his own agency. "He truly cared about his guys, as if he was in their shoes," Maggette said. "When things weren't going right for you, he took it hard."
January 20, 2022 | 7:53 pm EST Update
Shams Charania: Forward Paul Millsap and the Brooklyn Nets have agreed to find the four-time All-Star a new team where he can have a greater contribution, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.
Connor Letourneau: Steve Kerr on James Wiseman: “This has just not been an easy one to figure out. We’re still hopeful he’ll be cleared for contact soon, but there hasn’t been an opportunity for that to happen this week.”