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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — As the Los Angeles Lakers attempt to integrate a new coach, rebound from one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history and maximize what’s left in LeBron James‘ brilliant career, they have reaffirmed their faith in Rob Pelinka to lead the franchise through it.
Pelinka, the Lakers’ vice president of basketball operations and general manager, signed a contract extension in the offseason that will take him through the 2025-26 season, league sources confirmed to ESPN.
The contract was agreed upon around the time Darvin Ham was hired as the 28th coach in team history in June, sources said. It was intended to assure Ham that he would have alignment with the front office during his tenure in L.A., sources said.
The contract agreement was first reported by Yahoo Sports on Saturday, with the Lakers’ season opener against the Golden State Warriors looming on Oct. 18.
Pelinka, 52, joined L.A.’s front office in 2017 after representing Lakers legend Kobe Bryant as his agent for most of Bryant’s career. His first task was undoing some of the decisions made by the previous regime led by general manager Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss — finding a trade partner to take on Timofey Mozgov, using the stretch provision on Luol Deng and dealing away several young players on multiyear deals in order to free up cap space so L.A. could be a player in free agency.
He was promoted from GM and given the title of VP of basketball operations in January 2020 after he presided over the team’s free agent signing of James in July 2018 and trade for Anthony Davis in June 2019. The Lakers went on to win the championship to cap a trying 2019-20 season during which Bryant died in a helicopter crash and the league went on hiatus for four months because of the coronavirus. The championship delivered Jeanie Buss her first title since taking over for her late father, Dr. Jerry Buss, as team governor in 2013.
While the 2020 win over the Miami Heat was a major accomplishment, Pelinka’s time with the team has had its challenges, too. The Lakers have failed to make the playoffs in four out of six seasons since Pelinka joined the front office, including twice since signing James.
The team, led by Pelinka, has also fired two coaches in the past four years in Luke Walton and Frank Vogel and saw Magic Johnson abruptly resign from the front office, later explaining on ESPN’s First Take that he was tired of “all the backstabbing” he had to endure while working with Pelinka.
The contract extension came just months after L.A. finished last season 33-49, not even qualifying for the play-in tournament following a franchise-altering swap with the Washington Wizards to acquire Russell Westbrook in the summer of 2021.
“This was a disappointing Lakers season at every level and I think in the face of disappointment our fans expect more and that’s at every facet. It starts with the front office led by me and our ability to construct the right roster,” Pelinka said in April. “When you have disappointment, you need to take ownership of that and you need to vow to make the adjustments to be better and that’s where the work starts today.”