The Los Angeles Lakers may be less than two years removed from winning a championship but there are some massive issues with the franchise. While it’s feasible that the team can get back into title contention next season with LeBron James and Anthony Davis leading the charge, that’s not going to help them long term. The team’s front office appears to be a mess from the outside looking in.
Rob Pelinka is technically the vice president of basketball operations and general manager, but he seems to have less power than people who have the same role on other teams. Any time a new leak comes out, it’s either about LeBron James, Klutch Sports, Kurt Rambis, Phil Jackson or Magic Johnson influencing team decisions with Pelinka’s name rarely mentioned.
Pelinka deserves his fair share of the blame for the Lakers’ mess but it’s difficult to know what exactly he’s been responsible for. If team owner Jeanie Buss really wants to fix her team, she may need to completely overhaul the front office and bring in an outsider. Bill Simmons suggested on “The Bill Simmons Podcast” that Buss make a massive offer to Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti.
“The worst-case scenario for all those teams is if Jeanie (Buss) looks around one day, as she’s having people on the deck with all her advisers — all of whom are just either taking money from her or whatever. And she looks around and goes, ‘Maybe I get that guy, Sam Presti from Oklahoma City? And I’ll just pay him $50 million a year. And he could just run this and fix this.’ That would be a worst-case scenario for the league.
“And Presti’s just sitting there now as, you know, Masai (Ujiri) is in Toronto. The Boston situation seems pretty stable at this point. Clippers are stable. Golden State’s stable. If you’re just talking about like, who’s the big-ticket name out there that could immediately fix your franchise? I would say it’s Presti. I don’t know if he’d want to work for the Lakers. He grew up in Massachusetts. But it’s kind of hard for me to believe she wouldn’t look at this and go, ‘Our team can’t find or keep talent. We made wrong decisions pretty much all the time except for the Anthony Davis trade which, by the way, we gave up more assets in that trade than anyone’s ever given up in an NBA trade ever. Maybe I need to bring somebody in who actually knows what they’re doing.’”
ALL the latest Los Angeles Lakers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Lakers newsletter here!
Join Heavy on Lakers!
Insider Doesn’t Think Presti Would Want Job
Presti has been with the Thunder since they were still called the Seattle SuperSonics. He’s entrenched with the team and has a lot of job security. However, any competitor would be intrigued by a new challenge. Running the Lakers is a much tougher job but it’s also much more rewarding if he can build a contender. Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix was on the podcast with Simmons and said that Presti could be open to a new opportunity but would need a big commitment from the Lakers before he’d even consider their general manager job.
“I don’t know if he’d want to work there either, but I think another opportunity, a big one, would appeal to him,” Mannix said. “A whole truckload of money — which the Lakers could offer — would appeal to him. I’m 100% sure that if Sam Presti took a job like that, he would only take it if he could pink-slip everybody in the organization and he could tell every member of the Buss family, besides Jeanie, that they should lose his number and they do not have access to the front office and their input is no longer required.
“Owners always have input. Like Jeanie Buss should have input in what goes on with that team. Every owner does including, by the way, Clay Bennett in Oklahoma City. So that’s not an issue. But like everybody else? You’re gone. I’m building out my own staff. I’m doing my own thing. And I’m going to do this my way. Which I’m not so sure that Jeanie Buss would give. She seems satisfied with this.”
Presti Has Been Endorsed by LeBron
Presti has had a difficult time getting the Thunder over the hump in recent years but the future is bright considering the treasure trove of draft picks he’s acquired over the years. In the past, he was responsible for drafting superstars like James Harden, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. LeBron James has noticed the work that Presti has done and even praised the general manager in the past.
“The MVP over there is Sam Presti. He’s the MVP,” LeBron said of Presti over this season’s All-Star Weekend. “I mean, Josh Giddey is great. But Sam Presti, I don’t understand this guy’s eye for talent. He drafted [Kevin Durant], Russ [Westbrook], Jeff Green, Serge Ibaka, Reggie Jackson, Josh Giddey and the list goes on and on and on. This guy is pretty damn good.”
Landing Presti would no doubt be a great olive branch the Lakers could hand LeBron after a season filled with tension. However, the team would need a complete shift in philosophy before Presti would even be an option.
READ NEXT: Former NBA 3-Point Champion Named ‘Top Trade’ Target for Lakers