The position has been open since Magic Johnson's abrupt resignation in April. General manager Rob Pelinka will report directly to team owner Jeanie Buss, rather than to a president.
Pelinka won't be the only person who advises Buss. ESPN's Ohm Youngmisuk reported Kurt and Linda Rambis will offer their insight as well.
This development isn't entirely surprising. Shortly after Johnson's departure, Shelburne reported Pelinka was safe as the GM and that "if anything, his power will grow."
Doubling down on Pelinka is risky, though.
The Lakers made a mess of their pursuit of the New Orleans Pelicans' Anthony Davis ahead of the Feb. 7 trade deadline. The Los Angeles Times' Broderick Turner reported the team was prepared to part with almost all of its best young players to land the six-time All-Star.
The swirl of rumors seemed to sow division in the Lakers locker room, and ESPN's Brian Windhorst speculated that was the Pelicans' plan all along.
So I asked @WindhorstESPN if the Pels ever intended to seriously engage with LA on Anthony Davis, or if all the talks & leaks were instead designed to sabotage the young Lakers as revenge for what N.O. sees as tampering, & he said "it's not just possible, it's what happened." 👀 pic.twitter.com/wki2hDPaEs— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) February 7, 2019
Before that, Pelinka did a poor job of building around LeBron James, surrounding him with aging playmakers instead of shooters who could space the floor. Acquiring Reggie Bullock and Mike Muscala in the middle of the season was a tacit acknowledgment that the strategy had backfired, and it cost the Lakers center Ivica Zubac, who played well with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Pelinka also made missteps in the team's head-coaching search, per The Athletic's Bill Oram, as the Lakers missed out on their top two candidates before hiring Frank Vogel with Jason Kidd as a lead assistant. The team didn't make a strong run at Monty Williams before he went to the Phoenix Suns and then mishandled negotiations with Tyronn Lue.
When the Lakers built a championship winner in the 1980s and then again in the early 2000s, Jerry West oversaw everything in the front office. The absence of a similarly authoritative voice shows in the team's current internal dysfunction.
Perhaps Pelinka can fill that void, but his tenure hasn't provided much reason for optimism.