The Lakers’ new general manager is a familiar face around Los Angeles.
On Tuesday, the team announced that Rob Pelinka — founder and CEO of Los Angeles-based Landmark Sports Agency — had accepted the role in the Lakers’ front office.
The 47-year-old is best known around L.A. as Kobe Bryant’s agent, which has allowed him to collaborate on many occasions with Co-Owner and Governor Jeanie Buss.
“We have worked closely with Rob for many years and have first-hand experience with his knowledge of the league and the business of basketball,” Buss said in a statement. “In our recent discussions, it was clear that he also shares our goal of returning the Lakers to being an elite NBA franchise. Together with Earvin (“Magic” Johnson) and Coach (Luke) Walton, I believe we are in a great position to bring winning basketball back to the Lakers.”
Pelinka’s journey to this new stage of his career began in his hometown of Lake Forest, Ill., where he starred as a high school All-American. Also an exceptional student, he turned down interest from Ivy League schools to play at the University of Michigan.
A backup guard for his collegiate career, Pelinka was part of the Wolverines’ 1989 national championship team and later played in back-to-back NCAA title games during the “Fab Five” era in 1992 and 1993.
As a senior in that last year, Pelinka — who carried a 3.9 GPA and earned his B.B.A. with high honors — was awarded the Walter Byers Scholarship as the NCAA’s top male scholar-athlete across all sports.
Three years later, after deciding to pursue a career as an agent, he earned his J.D., Cum Laude from the University of Michigan Law School.
In nearly two decades of work since, Pelinka — who will divest from his interests in order to become GM — became one of the NBA’s premier representatives, building a clientele including the likes of Bryant, James Harden, Chris Bosh, Andre Iguodala and Trevor Ariza.
Pelinka — who was previously named ninth on the list of “The World’s Most Powerful Sports Agents” by Forbes — fit the bill for the Lakers’ GM job laid out by President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson, who wanted someone with a thorough knowledge of the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, as well as relationships with the league’s players and agents.
“Rob’s knowledge of the NBA landscape and the CBA, as well as his relationships with GMs around the league, are invaluable,” Johnson said. “After running a successful sports agency and as someone who truly understands the inner workings of salary caps and player negotiations, he will bring the additional skills and experience needed in the Lakers executive office. Rob is a winner and the Lakers are fortunate to have him.”
Pelinka will be introduced as the Lakers’ general manager at a press conference on Friday at 1 p.m.
He will have plenty of work waiting from the moment he takes office, with the NBA draft being held in June and free agency following the month after. Of course, he and the rest of the front office will also have decisions to make about the current roster as well.
“I am beyond grateful to join the Lakers front office,” Pelinka said. “The Lakers are a gold standard for sports franchises in the world, so we all share a responsibility to pursue excellence in everything we do. Excellence is what the Lakers stands for, what Jeanie Buss and Earvin Johnson embody, and what Coach Walton demands from our players. That obsession for greatness is what will bring Lakers basketball back to a championship level. With Jeanie and Magic guiding the vision, I am thrilled to help architect the future. I am really excited to get to work.”