Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Sources: Lakers let Ronnie Lester go
By Dave McMenamin
LOS ANGELES -- The revolving door for the Los Angeles Lakers franchise is ready to start turning.
On the same day Mike Brown agreed in principle to a four-year, $18.25 million deal to replace Phil Jackson as the next coach of the Lakers, multiple sources told ESPNLosAngeles.com that assistant general manager Ronnie Lester will not be brought back when his contract expires at the end of June.
Lester just completed his 10th season as assistant GM, serving under general manager Mitch Kupchak. The 52-year-old Lester's relationship with the team spans more than 25 years dating back to the 1984-85 season when he signed as a free agent and played the final two seasons of his injury-shortened NBA career with the Lakers, winning a championship in 1985.
He has been with the purple and gold virtually ever since, signing on as the team's primary scout for the Midwest region of the United States in 1987-88, one year after retiring because of persistent knee injuries.
Lester is credited as the scout on the front line representing the organization when the Lakers got their first hard look at the then 17-year-old Andrew Bynum at a workout in New York in 2005.
Roland Lazenby, author of "Jerry West: The Life And Legend Of A Basketball Icon," published by ESPN Books in 2009, first reported the Lester ouster via his Twitter account.
Apart from Lester, the Lakers have also informed more than a dozen scouts, training staff members and video staff personnel that their contracts will not be renewed when they expire at the end of June as well, as first reported by the Los Angeles Times.
The layoffs first appeared to be a cost-cutting measure by the Lakers in light of the potential lockout that could occur July 1 if the NBA owners and players' association cannot finalize a new collective bargaining agreement by then. But, while it initially seemed like there was potential for the employees to be rehired when the possible drawn-out labor unrest is settled, the growing sense is the team is using this offseason to cut ties with the Jackson days and turn the page on the next era of Lakers basketball.
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.