LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — The Los Angeles Lakers introduced super-agent Rob Pelinka as the team’s new general manager Friday.
Pelinka, who is Kobe Bryant’s former agent, is replacing longtime GM Mitch Kupchak as part of a dramatic shakeup that saw team owner Jeannie Buss name Earvin “Magic” Johnson as the Lakers’ president of basketball operations.
Johnson was seated alongside Pelinka for the afternoon news conference at the Lakers practice facility in El Segundo. Bryant and wife Vanessa along with Buss were also in attendance.
“He’s competitive like I am. He wants to win,” said Johnson about Pelinka. “He knows how to win.”
When Pelinka was asked how his experience as a sports agent would benefit the team, he responded, Twenty years really give you an insight of what’s important to players and agents.”
He was named to the position shortly after Buss fired GM Mitch Kupchak and her brother, Jim, as the club’s top basketball executives last month.
The team waited to announce the hiring until Pelinka complied with NBA rules against conflicts of interest, in part by transferring responsibility for his clients to other agents in his firm, Landmark Sports Agency.
Pelinka will now work directly for Johnson to help the 16-time NBA champion franchise turn around the worst four-year stretch in team history.
Among the team’s most immediate needs, according to Johnson: landing a veteran player to complement a young and mostly inexperienced roster.
Pelinka said the presence of coach Luke Walton could play a key role in acquiring an impact player.
“We could not have a better coach. I’ve had an opportunity to work with players around the league and…everyone loves (Luke)”, he said.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)