The “shake up” in Lakertown” has begun!! Los Angeles fans would say it’s about dang time!! Former Laker Ervin ‘Magic’ Johnson has been named the President of Basketball Operations, a long overdue appointment. Everybody knows how much Johnson loves his former team. The appointment may have come as a surprise to the team but it shouldn’t considering his involvement with the Lakers over the years, but the firing of Mitch Kupchak as his first official executive order clearly was not, considering there has been some turmoil under Kupchak’s watch.
Johnson who after his basketball career became a very successful entrepreneur having penciled deals and created jobs for many people. This move will be quite interesting to watch as changes unfold and if Magic has his way the Los Angeles Lakers will be revamped and back on top of their game!!
Read more as reported by the NY Post:
The Lakers belong to Magic Johnson once again, all but ruling out a Phil Jackson reunion with his former fiancée in Los Angeles.
Johnson, who was an outsider for years, openly and loudly critical of the way the team was being run, now will be the one calling the shots. The Lakers announced Tuesday the Hall of Famer is their president of basketball operations, firing longtime general manager Mitch Kupchak in the process.
The power play — and outlining of new roles in the Lakers front office — seems to quash the possibility Jackson will leave his role as Knicks president this offseason to join his former fiancée with the Lakers. According to Johnson, in fact, his reunion with the Lakers stemmed from his reaching out to Buss post-breakup with Jackson. The two publicly called off their engagement in December.
Johnson’s rise to power was remarkably swift; he was only hired as an adviser to president Jeanie Buss on Feb. 2. Less than three weeks later, Buss handed the reins to the Lakers legend amid a team-wide power struggle, with Kupchak on the outs and her brother, Jim, relinquishing his title as executive vice president of basketball operations.
The timing of the move is curious — the NBA trade deadline is Thursday. How the Lakers proceed will be Johnson’s decision to make on his first days on the job. Johnson already is wheeling and dealing, trading Lou Williams to the Rockets for a 2017 first-round pick and forward Corey Brewer, according to the Vertical.
“This was a very difficult decision. It was probably so hard for me to make that I probably waited too long,” Buss told reporters about the shake-up. “For that, I apologize to Laker fans.”
She did not guarantee any Magic tricks, pleading for fans to be patient with a young roster and rookie head coach Luke Walton.
“It’s going to take us a while,” Buss said. “I don’t want to fool the fans. We’re going to build this thing the right way.”
With Kupchak gone, Johnson was making quick work of his GM search. According to multiple reports, the Lakers were finalizing a deal with agent Rob Pelinka on Tuesday night to take over the post. He has represented many Lakers, including Kobe Bryant. Johnson said recently Bryant would be one of his first calls if he got the promotion.
At least for now, any role for Bryant appears to be more informal, with Bryant saying he’s always a phone call away.
“It’s not about quick,” Johnson had told reporters about finding a GM. “It’s about finding the right person who understands the new [collective bargaining agreement] because this is really important. This is a new league and a new NBA, and the CBA has made it such.”
Kupchak had been the 16-time NBA champion franchise’s GM since 2000, when Jerry West left the club. Kupchak had been in the Lakers’ front office for 30 years, including the last 17 as general manager — the longest current stretch running a front office in the NBA.
Jim Buss had been in the Lakers’ front office for 19 years, including 12 in charge of basketball operations alongside Kupchak.
The Lakers are mired in the worst four-year stretch in franchise history, missing the playoffs in three consecutive seasons with their three worst records ever. They finished 17-65 last season, a franchise low in the last year of Bryant’s two-decade run with the franchise.
Johnson’s return, even initially as adviser, made Jim Buss’ departure seem a foregone conclusion, particularly given Jim Buss’ vow several years ago to leave the franchise if the Lakers weren’t in contention for a Western Conference title by this year or next.
Johnson has never been a decision-making NBA executive, but he has been a successful businessman and investor since his playing career ended.
He also briefly coached the Lakers, but dropped his ceremonial title as a team vice president last June after his frequent criticisms of Jim Buss and former coaches. He had sold his ownership stake in 2010.
The departure of Kupchak is even more dramatic. The former Lakers center had worked with Jerry West and Jim Buss in relative harmony for years with the tradition-bound team.
Source: NY Post