For those who missed it, former Lakers President of basketball operations Magic Johnson appeared on ESPN’s First Take show this morning.
While on the show, Johnson talked about a variety of topics related to his departure from the Lakers front office last month (ranging from LeBron James trade talks, the Anthony Davis trade fiasco, the potential of the Lakers being sold to a new owner, and others). One issue that Johnson discussed in great detail, however, was his tenuous relationship with team General Manager Rob Pelinka.
Johnson claims that Pelinka backstabbed him, by privately and negatively talking about him to other members within the Lakers organization. While Johnson had an idea that this was going on, and tried to work around it, Pelinka’s unprofessional behavior eventually got to a point in which this type of talk was being said to Johnson’s friends outside of the Lakers franchise. This type of behavior played a big role in Johnson leaving the team. He admitted that while he understood that Pelinka was trying to elevate his position within the franchise, there were other (and more professional) ways that he could’ve done so. He also mentioned that Johnson only planned on being with the Lakers for a term of three years, and was actually trying to groom Pelinka to be ready to take his spot one day.
Whether it was Magic’s intention to send out this message or not, it was clearly received, the Lakers need to send Pelinka packing.
Any small ounce of credibility that Pelinka had as an NBA general manager just went out of the window after Johnson’s First Take appearance this morning. Various stories and rumblings have appeared (for the past five months at least) about other NBA GMs and their untrustworthy feelings about Rob Pelinka. If this was the case before, how are they supposed to view him now?
Magic Johnson is universally recognized as one of the greatest superstars to ever play the game of basketball. His stardom, along with Larry Bird’s, was the key factor that brought the NBA to mainstream popularity in the 1980s (a level in which the NBA has only grown from since). This morning, on national television, he flat-out told the world that the current Lakers GM is the biggest snake in the NBA. Rival GMs don’t want to do business with this type of person. Top-level free agents don’t want to put their careers into the hands of someone like this. Are Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, or even Jimmy Butler going to go to work for a pariah in the front office?
The summer of 2019 will prove to be the biggest offseason in franchise history for the Lakers. Their ability, or inability, to sign a top free agent to pair alongside LeBron and the young core will determine the trajectory of this team moving forward.
With all of this in mind, the Lakers need to ask themselves a simple question. Is Rob Pelinka the type of individual that our franchise needs to associate themselves with?
The answer is as clear as it will ever be. Rob Pelinka needs to be removed as General Manager of the Los Angeles Lakers.