It’s no secret that the Los Angeles Lakers like to keep things within the family. Every general manager the team has employed since the 1980s was either a player for the team previously or had connections in other ways. Despite not having any experience as an NBA executive, the Lakers hired Rob Pelinka as general manager, who was previously the agent for Kobe Bryant.
Pelinka has had some bright spots since running the basketball operations for Los Angeles, including pulling off a trade for Anthony Davis that led to a championship run in 2020. He also put together a strong offseason the following year and the Lakers likely would’ve competed for another title had it not been for injuries.
Unfortunately, this most recent offseason could be his undoing. Whether it was the decision to trade for Russell Westbrook or letting Alex Caruso walk in free agency or filling the roster with aging veterans, this season has been an abject disaster for the Lakers. It’s hard to imagine the team’s ownership actually forces Pelinka out after one bad offseason but it’s certainly on the table considering this last offseason might be one of the worst in franchise history.
If the Lakers choose to move on from Pelinka, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report mentioned that the son of team legend Jamaal Wilkes could be an option:
There has been growing speculation about one name to replace Pelinka as Lakers general manager: Omar Wilkes, the current head of basketball operations for Paul’s agency, Klutch Sports. Wilkes has been described as somewhat of a compromise between that ironclad Lakers family and Klutch’s operation. His father, Jamaal Wilkes, played eight seasons with the franchise and won three championships alongside Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Jordan Wilkes, Omar’s younger brother, spent six years in the Lakers’ front office before joining the Hornets as a scout in 2019.
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Wilkes Unlikely to Be Interested in Possible Lakers Opening
Wilkes would certainly check off the Lakers ties qualification that the team apparently has for general manager jobs. His father’s number is currently hanging up in the rafters at Crypto.com Arena and was an integral part of three of the team’s championships. While hiring Wilkes would make sense if Pelinka is jettisoned, Fischer is reporting that it’s not likely to happen:
However, multiple sources with knowledge of the situation strongly denied Wilkes’ candidacy to replace Pelinka, citing his hands-on role within Klutch’s collegiate recruiting efforts. To be clear, the Lakers have not contacted him for any position. Wilkes has already landed an impressive client list starring Trae Young and Anthony Edwards, and has long been courting talented Duke forward Paolo Banchero, widely considered a top-three prospect in the 2022 NBA Draft. Wilkes and Paul were seen courtside at the Blue Devils’ Las Vegas game against fellow top prospect Chet Holmgren and Gonzaga earlier this season.
Pelinka Will Likely Get Another Chance Next Season
Lakers owner Jeanie Buss is very loyal to the people close to her so Pelinka getting canned after this season just doesn’t seem likely. He did help engineer a roster that won a championship not long ago. Perhaps LeBron James could force Pelinka out but he hasn’t earned enough clout with Buss to orchestrate that type of coup.
Pelinka will likely get another offseason to try and fix this mess. It won’t be easy as trading for Westbrook destroyed much of the team’s flexibility. If the Lakers are just as bad next season as they are this season, then Pelinka will have to start feeling the heat.
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