Inside the carnage of the Lakers’ “Red Wedding” trade deadline, where decades of service to the franchise were sent packing, an opportunity has arisen.
Magic Johnson, the man who always knew how to pick ‘em in transition, the man who made the perfect pass at the perfect moment, needs to hire himself a general manager.
Luckily, he’s in Hollywood, and if there’s one thing this town can do, it’s type cast.
Johnson, speaking on Spectrum SportsNet, laid out the plan for what he wants in Mitch Kupchak’s replacement.
The next GM of the Lakers need to know the salary cap. He needs to have pre-existing relationships with players, he needs to have relationships around the NBA, he needs to be “super-duper smart,” he needs to know the evolving NBA and he, probably, shouldn’t be a blood relative to the owner.
Johnson could, and should, look around the NBA at the talented people currently running teams. Or, he could take a page from the playbook of Los Angeles. Johnson, after all, is as much “Showtime” as anything else.
In Los Angeles, it’s never too hard to find someone willing to take on a starring – or even a supporting – role.
Rob Pelinka: the past-really-isn’t-the-past candidate
See, the Lakers aren’t that far removed from success, and in this era of entertainment, a reboot is always a way to get people’s interest.
The team’s last star, Kobe Bryant, is too busy telling stories, and creating a winning basketball team isn’t one he’s ready to tell. So, instead of bringing in the Mamba, why not bring in one of his closest confidantes: agent Rob Pelinka.
Pelinka, the guy you thought was Rob Lowe (he literally looks just like him), represented Bryant and is a clear tie to the 24-era that the old regime seemed like it was trying to escape. He also currently reps James Harden, and if that L.A. native ever wanted to come home … well, you know.
According to the Times’ Broderick Turner, Pelinka is a name to watch.
Joe Dumars: the former-competitor candidate
Former ballers know the best place to judge anyone happens in between the lines, where character is defined by diving for loose balls, knocking down pressure jumpers and taking the toughest challenges head-on.
The man who embodies these qualities most also happens to have an NBA executive of the year award. Joe Dumars wasn’t afraid of battling with Michael Jordan, so he won’t be scared when it comes to working for Johnson.
He won a title in Detroit, which was good. He also drafted Darko Milicic, which was not good.
In Hollywood, sometimes you make “Clerks” and sometimes you make “Gigli.”
Mike Zarren: the smartest-guy-in-the-room candidate
This would hit on a couple of different tropes, with the Lakers and the jock boss turning things over to a brain, and there’d be a little bit of revenge in here too.
Mike Zarren, the Boston Celtics’ assistant GM, has the Harvard Law degree, the analytical background, the cap expertise and the imagination to help make the Lakers one of the NBA’s most intellectual front offices. And luring Zarren, a lifetime Celtics fan, to Los Angeles would be payback for Boston stealing Paul Pierce from Inglewood.
Ryan West: the outside-but-actually-inside-the-box candidate
Maybe the answer is right under the Lakers’ nose? Maybe family ties aren’t such a bad thing? Maybe, Ryan West, the son of the league’s logo, Jerry West, is the man for the job.
West is the Lakers’ director of pro personnel, and he’d likely have the ear of the elder West, one of the best basketball minds in the league’s history. With a leadership vacuum already inside the Lakers’ front office, West will likely get an opportunity to seize more power.
If the plan all along was to have West replace Mitch Kupchak, maybe this is an opportunity to speed up the process.
And speaking of processes ….
Sam Hinkie: The redemption candidate
The Lakers could just hire the man who trusts the process that (eventually) got the 76ers Joel Embiid. Sam Hinkie is the perfect man to help lead the Lakers for at least the rest of this season, when the top priority has to be keeping their draft pick, which heads to Philadelphia if it falls out of the top three.
Hollywood loves a comeback — Mel Gibson got nominated for an Oscar! — and the man behind “The Process” could be a fun guy to root for.