Rob Pelinka took away plenty of lessons from nearly two decades as an agent in the NBA. One of the most important came at the house of the late Lakers owner, Dr. Jerry Buss.
When Pelinka’s star client, Kobe Bryant, grew frustrated with the Lakers’ lack of postseason success in May 2007, Dr. Buss invited Pelinka and Bryant to discuss the team’s future.
Pelinka was taken away by the amount of collaboration that Dr. Buss encouraged and — having been introduced as the Lakers’ General Manager on Saturday (AEDT) — aims to replicate that in his new position within the franchise’s front office.
“We are all gonna come together like Dr. Buss envisioned and we’re gonna collaborate,” Pelinka said. “We’re gonna exchange ideas. People’s opinions are going to be shared and respected. Jeanie (Buss) and Earvin (“Magic” Johnson) are going to guide the vision and we are all going to architect it.”
Jeanie Buss, Pelinka, Johnson and head coach Luke Walton represent the Lakers’ leadership heading into this new era of the franchise.
Johnson, the team’s President of Basketball Operations, sat beside Pelinka at the press conference and dubbed him his “running mate” in the front office.
Johnson applauded Pelinka for sharing a similar vision but also being “strong where I’m weak.” Specifically, Pelinka has thorough knowledge of the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement and salary cap.
He immediately put that information into practice by going through an exercise with Johnson earlier, as they analyzed the next five free agent classes and figured out how much money they could offer certain targets compared to how much their current team could.
“He’s competitive like I am,” Johnson said. “He wants to win. He knows how to win. He’s an expert at the new CBA. He’s teaching me the CBA right now as we speak. He understands the salary cap. He has relationships throughout the league, which is very important.
“He understands college talent because he’s been recruiting them for many, many years to represent them. He understands the new-age player, because he represented so many of them.”