Internal struggle failing to empower Rob Pelinka to restore Lakers glory

Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka is acting in secret. Is that his fault or have the Lakers failed to empower their lead decision-maker?
San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Lakers
San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Lakers / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages

The Los Angeles Lakers have conducted a seemingly thorough search for a new head coach. JJ Redick is the apparent frontrunner, but the likes of David Adelman, James Borrego, Sam Cassell, Dan Hurley, Micah Nori, Chris Quinn, and Sean Sweeney have all been considered for the job.

Oft-maligned general manager Rob Pelinka has been the driving force behind the Lakers' widespread search, even if some question how layered it actually is.

Pelinka has seemingly prioritized three candidates at various points of his search: Borrego, Hurley, and Redick. Hurley received a formal contract offer, while Borrego and Redick have gone through multiple interviews already.

According to Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times, rival executives still question if anyone but Redick is truly an option—while the Lakers insist that their search is widespread.

"Despite internal pushback the Lakers were conducting an open and wide-ranging search, rival NBA executives repeatedly linked the Lakers to Redick. The team’s pursuit of Hurley, in part, showed that the Lakers’ search extended beyond the known candidates."

This is in line with the thoughts and sentiments of the general population, as most believe that Redick was a lock to be hired as head coach of the Lakers from the start.

Lakers need to empower Rob Pelinka to do his job

In line with Woike's report is a previous article from Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Buha revealed that Pelinka's interest in Hurley was kept secret from some in the Lakers organization, which has likely caused a stir internally.

Perhaps it's a case of reading too far between the lines, but Pelinka's secrecy and rival executives' doubt suggests that the general manager isn't actually being empowered to do his job.

Redick may be the eventual hire, as well as the ideal candidate for the Lakers to consider. Pelinka seems to be working against the grain, however, in his efforts to evaluate options beyond who he's expected to hire.

The fact that there would be any need for secrecy in that regard suggests a level of distrust, for whatever reason that may be.

Ahead of an offseason in which the Lakers must effectively decide the fate of their future, this type of commotion is far from ideal. LeBron James could enter free agency at 39, D'Angelo Russell has a player option, L.A. has a first-round draft pick for the last time until 2026, and the locker room needs yet another head coach.

Pelinka will need to figure out how to navigate the path to success for a team that's coming off of a first-round exit for the second time since winning the championship in 2020—and it outright missed the playoffs in one of the two other seasons.

Rebuilding the Lakers into a contender will take precision and patience. Neither will be permitted if Pelinka has to work against his peers.

This isn't to say that other members of the organization are wrong and that he's right, but instead to acknowledge how concerning it is that his support system is trusted so little that he had to keep a potential slam-dunk of a hiring secret from them.

If the Lakers are going to get back on the right track, then they need to give Pelinka a chance to prove, once and for all, if he's the right person for the job.