The Los Angeles Lakers formally announced Tuesday that former sports agent Rob Pelinka, who famously represented Lakers icon Kobe Bryant, will become the franchise's new general manager, tasked with helping it emerge from its worst period in history.
Pelinka, 47, replaces Mitch Kupchak, the NBA's longest-tenured general manager, who was fired in late February after 17 seasons in his post and 30 with the team. Pelinka will report to Lakers president and governor Jeanie Buss and the team's president of basketball operations, Earvin "Magic" Johnson.
"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," Buss said in a statement. "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."
Pelinka agreed in principle to become the team's general manager in late February but an announcement was delayed while he divested himself of his clients at Landmark Sports Agency, among themHouston Rockets star James Harden. Pelinka is scheduled to be introduced at a news conference Friday.
"I am beyond grateful to join the Lakers front office," Pelinka said in a statement. "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."
Bryant tweeted congratulations to Pelinka after the announcement.
Jeannie Buss and Johnson have given strong votes of confidence to first-year coach Walton during the transition.
"I know it's been coming for some time now, but I'm excited to work with (Pelinka) and run ideas off him and spend some time in a room with him,'' Walton said before the Lakers faced the Mavericks. "Guys that I'm very close with and respect their opinion say he's very intelligent. He's a hard worker. They feel like he did a great job for them, which is saying a lot.''
While Pelinka, like Johnson, lacks any NBA front-office experience, he is not the first agent to make such a transition. Lon Babby, Jason Levien, Justin Zanik, Bob Myers and Arn Tellem also followed similar paths.
"Rob's knowledge of the NBA landscape and the CBA, as well as his relationships with GMs around the league, are invaluable," Johnson said in a statement. "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."
Before becoming an agent, Pelinka was famous for being a teammate of the Fab Five at Michigan. He won a championship with the Wolverines in 1989 and took part in three Final Fours (1989, 1992 and 1993).
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
Lakers officially announce hiring of Rob Pelinka as GM