The Lakers were exposed as an even deeper mess than anyone could have previously known thanks to a piece by ESPN’s Baxter Holmes. The article details the management style of the Magic Johnson/Pelinka regime over the past two years and just how deeply flawed it was. The piece also exposed Pelinka as a complete fraud who lied, made up stories to deflect blame, and garners absolutely no respect from Lakers employees.
Aside from stabbing Johnson in the back ostensibly to save his own skin, there were bizarre stories about Pelinka making up lies. Even completely unnecessary things like his almost surely made up story about arranging a meeting between Kobe Bryant and Heath Ledger.
The Lakers’ scouting staff had Villanova forward Omari Spellman as the top player remaining on their board when they were on the clock during the 2018 NBA Draft. Everyone believed they would select him with the 25th pick. Instead, Pelinka shocked the room by picking Moritz Wagner. This is what Holmes’ piece had to say about that incident:
Later, Pelinka told staffers he had heard negatives about Spellman and that he had discussed the issues with Lakers forward Josh Hart, who had played at Villanova before Spellman. Hart, he said, agreed there were concerns. Staffers were taken aback, and some said it represented another instance of a unilateral decision being made by Pelinka or Johnson without the involvement of key figures who would normally be central to the decision. “For him to covertly go to a player and go behind everybody’s else’s back, that’s the problem,” one coaching staff member said.
It also represented what multiple basketball operations staffers said was one of several instances in which Pelinka was quick to say that others — such as agents or players — were at least partly if not wholly responsible for certain decisions, which staffers believe was Pelinka’s way of deflecting blame and from taking ownership or responsibility.
It’s clear from this and other stories that the Lakers’ staff has no respect for Pelinka. And now, neither does the rest of the league. He’s toxic and needs to be removed from the organization.
In the end, this is all on Jeanie Buss. She can’t see what a problem Pelinka is and can’t see past her personal relationship with him. She and Linda Rambis are big defenders of him according to Holmes’ piece, and that’s where the problem lies. They are both letting their personal relationships ruin a once proud franchise.
Pelinka needs to go if the Lakers are going to rise again.