The first week of the search followed a chaotic week for the franchise. On April 9, Magic Johnson resigned as the Lakers’ president of basketball operations, telling reporters before telling Buss or any other member of the organization. Buss has no plans to hire someone to replace Johnson, who is still expected to be part of the Lakers’ free-agent recruiting this summer in some capacity.
Okay, so that’s probably not what actually happened, but lending credence to the theory is Johnson’s latest interview/ambushing with TMZ, in which he continued to explain his decision to leave, while also confirming that he isn’t totally stepping away: “No. The same,” Johnson said when asked if he would’ve done things any differently if he had them to do over again. “Everybody knows I love the Lakers, and so I’m gonna always help them. Like right now, I’m gonna still help them. I love my team, I love my franchise, and I love this city. “You have to do things sometimes on your own terms. It doesn’t matter what other people think, see? And I’m that guy. But I’m still helping them. It’s almost like I never left (laughs). I’m still talking to them every day,” Johnson continued. “I’m gonna help them get the Lakers back right, you can believe that.”
If no one knows what’s going on, it’s likely that Jeanie Buss has reached out to Bryant. A source says Kobe’s importance to Jeanie explains why Pelinka, whom Magic gored, remains in place with enhanced powers and no thought of replacing him…. As for any hope Bryant will ride to the rescue, he’s not one to agonize about decisions. If he had any interest in taking over, we would have heard about it by now.
In numerous rival organizations, there is both shock and relief that the Lakers haven’t responded to events of the past week by chasing the likes of Golden State’s Bob Myers, San Antonio’s R.C. Buford and Oklahoma City’s Sam Presti before they go looking for a new coach.
Industry estimates suggest Morey’s recent contract extension from the Rockets pays him in the $8 million range annually. Johnson was earning an estimated $10 million as the Lakers’ team president. Given the TV riches that the Lakers bring in, Buss could presumably double those figures in a pitch to the game’s elite executives.
Listen: The Lakers are apparently not looking for a replacement for Magic Johnson as team president, via @wojespn with @SedanoESPN & @minakimes 🔊
Ramona Shelburne: Pelinka will run the Lakers coaching search. As @Adrian Wojnarowski reported Ty Lue is one of the leading candidates. The expectation is they will talk to others, too, though.
While there's no love lost for the Lakers' front office, Buss carries a fair amount of goodwill around the league. Unlike some of her big-market brethren and sistren, Buss has recognized the plight of the small-market franchise as central to the core mission of the NBA. Her noblesse oblige has conveyed that what's good for the NBA is good for the Lakers, and it's a sentiment that hasn't been lost on fellow owners and executives.
Magic Johnson: .@JeanieBuss it was an honor and pleasure working side by side with you every single day coming up with strategy on how we could make the @Lakers better on the court and in the community. It was a dream of your father and my mentor and father figure, Dr. Jerry Buss, for us to work together and it finally came to fruition. I know how bad you want to win a championship for all @Lakers fans @JeanieBuss and under your leadership that will happen soon. I will always love you and will always be your brother from another mother. Laker for life! ❤️
“Honestly, they need to hire an experienced general manager with credibility and let him fire Rob,” the agent said. “Let that president that come in, let him have the authority to hire his staff and to hire their head coach if he doesn’t want Luke Walton.”
So how does one go about doing business with Pelinka? It could be tough: “Obviously you can’t. I can’t,” an agent said. “I haven’t even done any business with him, because either I don’t have something that he wants or he just won’t respond to stuff.”
Magic Johnson has ZERO regrets after leaving the Lakers -- in fact, he's super happy about his decision ... so says his wife Cookie Johnson. Just 24 hours after Magic shockingly stepped down as the team's President of Basketball Operations, Cookie and E.J. Johnson hit up Mr. Chow on Wednesday -- where they looked pretty relieved. "Just know that [Magic Johnson] is happy and we're happy for him," Cookie told us on the way out of the restaurant ... "No regrets."
If there is one team that could make Myers consider leaving the Warriors dynasty, it would be the Lakers. He’s of Danville origins, but Myers is definitely Los Angeles verified. He went to UCLA, where he played basketball and helped with the school’s long search for a new men’s basketball coach, which ended with Mick Cronin’s introduction on Tuesday with Myers in attendance. He got his law degree in Los Angeles while working his way up the ranks of Los Angeles-based Wasserman Media Group. He has a good relationship with Kobe Bryant, the Mr. Laker of this era, whom Myers worked with during his agent days.
But why would Myers want to go to the Lakers? Well, for starters, money. According to Sam Amick, national NBA writer for The Athletic — as he discussed on the new “Tampering” podcast — Magic was making $10 million a year with the Lakers. No, Myers does not make that much with the Warriors. Maybe about half that. Myers definitely makes less than Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who recently signed a contract extension at a number the Warriors have been diligent about keeping close to the vest.
LeBron James was stunned to learn of Magic Johnson's decision to step down as the Los Angeles Lakers' president of basketball operations, a source with knowledge of James' thinking told ESPN's Ramona Shelburne on Wednesday. But despite Johnson's abrupt resignation, James stands behind Lakers owner Jeanie Buss and the organization, the source told Shelburne.
The team is still assessing Johnson's decision, but general manager Rob Pelinka will stay in his job, and, if anything, his power will grow, sources told Shelburne.
Brian Windhorst: “I think Jeanie was aware that Magic might resign. I don’t think it came out of the clear blue sky. I don’t know if she knew he was going to have a press conference before the game but they definitely, from what I’ve told, after that [three-hour] meeting that they had I think it was yesterday, knew this was an option or this was something that could happen.”
Ryan Ward: Kyle Kuzma on Magic Johnson resigning as Lakers president: "To be honest, I was a little bit shocked. Just like everybody else was. It wasn't predicted. Nobody had that on their minds."
Ryan Ward: Kyle Kuzma on Magic Johnson: "For Magic, he's Magic Johnson. He doesn't need to prove to anybody anything. He just made the best decision for him. That's all you can ask and that's all anybody in this world would want to do for themselves."
Tania Ganguli: Kuzma is asked about Magic's assertion players need to grow up/media babies them. He begins: "I mean for me I will never say nothing bad about Magic. He’s theguy that gave me an opportunity to come in this league and play for this great organization." Adds that Johnson is right.
Magic Johnson: Thank you to Lakers owner Jeanie Buss, General Manager Rob Pelinka, Coach Luke Walton, the Lakers players & the entire basketball operations staff for the tremendous opportunity to serve as the President of Basketball Operations for the @Lakers. I will always be a Laker for life.
Chris Grenham: Danny Ainge tells @Toucherandrich that he hasn’t reached out to Magic Johnson and he probably won’t. Said they don’t have that kind of relationship but he has a great deal of respect for Magic.
He didn’t have the professionalism to tell LeBron, a source close to James confirmed, forcing one of the greatest players of all time to learn about Johnson’s decision through the media. Never mind, as the source also confirmed, that LeBron had met with Johnson, Pelinka, and his agent, Rich Paul, on Saturday to discuss the future of the franchise without even a hint that this was coming. Three days later, Johnson was engaging in a 40-minute public therapy session with reporters that only sparked more questions about what he had done.
Lakers owner Jeanie Buss recently gave Magic Johnson permission to fire coach Luke Walton at the conclusion of this season after being informed of Walton’s unwillingness to “bulk up" his coaching staff, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Johnson, who held an impromptu news conference outside the Lakers’ locker room Tuesday to announce his resignation as president before the team’s final game of the season against the Portland Trail Blazers, had been displeased with Walton’s ability to effectively make in-game adjustments and he felt the coaching staff lacked the experience and expertise to foster player development, sources said.
Johnson wanted to replace Walton during the season, but Buss was reluctant to venture down that road until now, sources said. The 59-year-old business mogul told Yahoo Sports on Tuesday he had the power to do what he saw fit for the franchise and said what would have transpired after exit interviews on Wednesday had nothing to do with why he made the shocking decision to resign.
Lakers Statement on Earvin "Magic" Johnson: There is no greater Los Angeles Laker than Earvin Johnson. We are deeply grateful to Magic for all that he has done for our franchise – as a player, an ambassador and an executive. We thank him for his work these past two years as our President of Basketball Operations.
Bill Oram: A glimpse of Magic Johnson’s exit, concluding with Magic telling other media members, “I want you to take care of my Michigan State guy,” @Ohm Youngmisuk. pic.twitter.com/qdljCVlqVv
Arash Markazi: LeBron James didn’t address the media and had his security try to stop reporters who came near him. LeBron on the phone: “Crazy, crazy, crazy.” Yep. pic.twitter.com/PObznj26Rd
Arash Markazi: What’s your reaction to the Magic news? JaVale McGee: “I don’t got no reaction.” Were you surprised? McGee: “Yeah.”
Tania Ganguli: Magic Johnson said Jeanie Buss will not be at today’s game. He’s going to try to see her either today or tomorrow. Regardless he will call her when he gets out of here.
Ryan Ward: Magic Johnson on stint as Lakers president: "I'm happy with what we did in 2 years. I'm not disappointed on anything I did, any trade I made. None of that.."
Ryan Ward: Magic Johnson on if Anthony Davis situation played into resignation: "No. That had nothing to do with it. We want to improve the team. That's what my job is to do, and then you guys made it like, 'Oh, the young guys..."
Adrian Wojnarowski: Luke Walton has two years left on his contract, but only next season is guaranteed, per source. Lakers hold option on 2020-21 season. Johnson planned to fire him, but stumbled into his own resignation on the way. Somehow, Walton survived Magic Johnson. He didn't see that coming.
Mark Medina: Steve Kerr respectfully declined to comment on Magic Johnson stepping down as the Lakers’ president of basketball operations.
Mark Medina: In light of Magic Johnson stepping down as the Lakers' president of basketball operations, Draymond Green asked if anything in the NBA shocks him: "Not at all. Nothing."
Chris Mannix: Magic Johnson had a three-hour meeting with @Jeanie Buss yesterday, per Johnson. They discussed the direction of the organization. He gave no indication he no longer wanted to be part of it.
Bill Oram: On Jeanie: “I think she’s going to be caught off guard. And I think she’ll be hurt by not having somebody she can trust...” Says once she sees his face she’ll understand this was the right decision for him.
Mike Bresnahan: Magic said this was his “final decision” and alluded that he couldn’t be talked out of stepping down from the job as Lakers president of basketball operations.
Mike Vorkunov: Magic Johnson is joking around, asking if he can get a job on ESPN. "I need a job." This is amazing.
Mike Bresnahan: Magic said he really enjoyed recruiting LeBron, specifically that part of the job as president of basketball operations. He maintained that the Lakers “were not that far” from other teams talent-wise. Cited injuries as the reason for the season’s downturn.
Tania Ganguli: Magic talks about D’Angelo Russell and says congratulations to him. He adds he couldn’t say that before or it would have been tampering. Also says Russell matured and that’s why he’s an All Star now.
Dave McMenamin: Magic Johnson did not endorse anyone to fill his position but said Jeanie Buss will undoubtedly field dozens of phone calls from interested parties.
Kevin Ding: Magic on stepping down as Lakers president to return to his old life: “I’ll still help the Lakers in any way I can.”
Dave McMenamin: Magic Johnson is acknowledging media members, broadcasters and Staples Center employees by name as he looks out at the crowd around him.
Dave McMenamin: Magic Johnson says the decision was not over Luke Walton’s job status. He says making this announcement, which, Jeanie Buss isn’t aware of yet, is a “monkey off my back.”
Dave McMenamin: Magic Johnson said he will return to community work and reaching out to players around the league to help in their development: “I’m a free bird and I can’t be handcuffed ... This is a good day.”
Tania Ganguli: “I was happier when I wasn’t the president,” Johnson says. He says his relationship with Jeanie will be better when he’s not in this position. Calls this a monkey off his back.
Tania Ganguli: “It’s hard when you love an organization like I love this organization,” Magic Johnson says as he starts to cry. “It’s hard when you love a person like I love Jeanie.” Talks about how much Jeanie loves Luke too.
Dave McMenamin: Magic Johnson has cried, he’s laughed. He’s speaking completely off the cuff and taking any and all questions. A remarkable day in Lakers history.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Lakers coaching staff fully expected to be fired in hours after the final game of the season. They had believed they were gone for months. Now? Magic quits in public, saying he's too scared to tell Jeanie Buss face-to-face. What an embarrassing episode for a historic franchise.
Dave McMenamin: Magic Johnson says that his position doesn’t allow him to be a statesman of the game of basketball. He says he wants to go back to his wonderful life away from this position. “I was happier when I wasn’t the president (of the Lakers)”
Tania Ganguli: Magic Johnson steps down as Lakers president. He hasn’t said it outright but is hinting strongly that he planned to fire Luke Walton and that won’t happen now. He is getting emotional and hasn’t told Jeanie yet he says.
Chris Haynes: Magic Johnson says he likes to be free to congratulate players such as Russell Westbrook when he hit the 20–20-20 mark. Says he couldn’t be himself and he hasn’t informed Jeanie Buss yet.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Since taking over as president of the Lakers, Magic Johnson never fully committed to the job. Often he was traveling and away from the team. His office hours were limited. He didn't do a lot of scouting. Running an NBA team takes a tremendous commitment of time and energy.
Dave McMenamin: Magic Johnson is conducting an impromptu press conference and just stepped down as Lakers president. He said he loves Jeanie Buss like a sister.
When Kuzma went to Charlotte for All-Star Weekend to participate in the NBA’s Rising Stars Challenge, he sought an audience with Pelinka. Kuzma and his people came away from their chat feeling reassured, a source close to the situation told The Athletic. Pelinka told the second-year forward that he was key to the Lakers’ future and that, unless it was a trade for one of the game’s three best players, he wasn’t trading him. A year earlier, Larry Nance Jr. approached Pelinka with a similar question. Nance Jr. and his fiancée, his college girlfriend, were interested in buying a house. He wanted to get a sense of whether the Lakers planned on keeping him around, and Pelinka told him that the Lakers would only trade him if it meant landing one of the game’s three best players. He told him to buy the house, multiple sources confirmed.
One version of events that circulated within the Lakers’ walls — and does not bode well for Walton’s future — suggested that it was the coach’s desire to play James off the ball more that inspired the team’s emphasis on playmakers. A source with knowledge of Walton’s thinking vehemently refuted the assertion, indicating that the sequence of events has been unfairly flip-flopped: Walton was given all these players who weren’t strong shooters but could handle the ball, and thus had no other choice but to find a way to play LeBron off the ball more. Other sources said the coaching staff was not consulted about potential targets in free agency, and that Walton was only looped in very late in the process.
At one point, some in Walton’s circles feared Paul was trying to use the Davis situation to leverage a coaching change, with the premise being that his arrival would require a higher-caliber coach. But the Lakers received backchannel information that Davis liked Walton and that relieved pressure on the third-year head coach.
Once the trade deadline was over and Davis remained in New Orleans, the trust issues that sprung up as a result of the very public talks remained. Johnson joined the team two days after the Feb. 7 deadline in Philadelphia, but his message, delivered 30 minutes before tipoff, seemed to be poorly received. Sources described players rolling their eyes at Johnson. They had gone days without hearing from the front office and the message from management now was, essentially, that they needed to toughen up. The Lakers lost in Philly that night, and again in Atlanta against the lowly Hawks.
This season, Pelinka, the general manager, took a proactive role in sitting in on coaches’ meetings and even requested the Lakers change the way their scouting reports were packaged for players, according to multiple sources. While a GM collaborating with a coaching staff on how to present information may not be without precedent, this was seen by those on the ground as another example of Pelinka unnecessarily meddling in low-level affairs.
Foremost in the bumbling was the Lakers front office, which was behind the curve in wisdom, poise, awareness and, shockingly, effort. Magic Johnson isn’t actually a full-timer in the usual NBA sense. He’s rarely in the Laker office, big-footing the process like Michael Jordan in Charlotte. Not that there aren’t other head guys with light schedules but they have No. 2 guys who take up the slack. Johnson’s GM Rob Pelinka is a bright guy but like Magic, isn’t a regular on the scouting trail, or wasn’t until they realized they were looking at a lottery pick instead of the playoffs.
The phone call still bothers Andrew Bogut nearly 15 months later. Then, Bogut learned the Los Angeles Lakers would cut him four days before his contract would become guaranteed. Normally such an incident would be chalked up to the business of professional sports. To Bogut, the Lakers breached an unwritten agreement he said he had reached with their front office so long as he remained healthy. “The Lakers told me I’d be there the whole year,” Bogut said. “They went against their word and waived me at the deadline. Whatever. That was their decision.”
Bogut did not travel with the Warriors (53-24) for Thursday’s game against the Lakers (35-43), as part of the team’s plan to rest its veterans on parts of back-to-backs. Even if he had gone on the trip, though, it does not appear Bogut would shake hands with the Lakers’ president of basketball operations (Magic Johnson) and their general manager (Rob Pelinka) for a simple reason. “I was basically lied to,” Bogut said.
Not enough time has passed, though, for Bogut to soften his frustrations about his brief stint with the Lakers. “It was a young team and the roster was kind of all over the place,” Bogut said. “Now obviously they got LeBron [James] and their own issues they are dealing with. It was definitely an interesting organization to be a part of after coming from Golden State. It’s just different. It’s ran differently.”
James turns 35 in December. He has three years left on this contract. He has no time to waste. "So it's very critical to me and my future," James says of acquiring another star, as he stops midway down the Garden ramp. "And I'm positive and very optimistic that Magic and Rob and the franchise will be great." James has heard the speculative chatter—that other stars don't want to join him. That they'd have to sacrifice too much to play with him. That the Lakers have lost their magical charm. "They got me," James retorts, laughing. "I'm very confident. And I'm confident that players want to play with me. I'm very confident in that."
While Buss has been an ardent backer of Walton, she has also empowered Johnson, who has been less resolute in his support. His efforts have all worked against his coach rather than with him. After delivering James in July, Johnson ignored the pleas of the coaching staff that he retain Brook Lopez and Julius Randle. Instead, he signed controversial and limited journeymen JaVale McGee, Michael Beasley and Lance Stephenson. When a fiery early season meeting between Johnson and Walton became public, Johnson responded not by saying he supported Walton but that he would allow him to “finish the season.” After the season? All bets would presumably be off.
Lakers point guard Rajon Rondo will not be fined or disciplined for sitting in a courtside seat removed from his teammates late in the Lakers' 115-99 loss Wednesday to the Denver Nuggets, sources told ESPN. Rondo met with Lakers president Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka on the team's off day Thursday to discuss his seat choice and how it was perceived.
"They notified me that it was a league rule that you can't sit there," Rondo told ESPN. "I wasn't aware of it. But now I know going forward where I need to be." Rondo estimated he sat in a seat separate from the bench "eight, 10 times this year" when speaking to reporters after the game. "I've done it (before)," he said. "I've sat everywhere but the bench more than 40 seconds. But I guess when things aren't going well you can kind of continue to make up stories. But I never thought it was a big deal. I was just in my head contemplating the game. That's kind of what I do. I don't think I have to explain myself as far as my relationship with the team, the players and the coaches. That shouldn't even be discussed."
Rondo pushed back on the assumption that his choice of seat had anything to do with being upset over playing time. "I still don't understand why we're talking about it but we are," Rondo said. "A.C. and those guys did a hell of a job playing. I broke down film for two hours last night. I mean, I don't know what people want. After a loss, I'm still trying to figure it out. But it is what it is. People are going to say what they say."
So you want to become an NBA general manager someday… Antawn Jamison: Yeah. Eventually, leading a front office and getting the opportunity to put all the pieces together would be the ideal job.
Antawn Jamison: Well, the most important thing in today’s generation is winning. It’s all about winning. I think in the past, especially when I played, it was more about the destination and the market. But these guys can play in Alaska and still have unbelievable marketing and sell just about anything. Now, these guys are like, “Look, we love LA. We’re there in the offseason. But I want to know if we can win.” That’s why the Buss family and Magic and Rob are doing what they’re doing. We get it. We can’t off of the banners and past championships anymore. And instead of talking about putting more banners up there, we need to do everything possible to actually put more up there.
Antawn Jamison: Magic and those guys are going full force; they have their foot on the gas pedal and they’re trying to get people in there. And you can just tell that, of course, when you have LeBron James on your team, it makes it that much easier. And he’s doing a great job as far as bringing attention and bringing guys there. It should be fun and I’m excited to see what the future holds, especially in the next couple years.
The former, make no mistake, isn’t earning the same type of approval ratings as the latter. And when it comes to his chosen managerial style, Johnson has left all sorts of well-respected people—agents, coaches, rival executives and players alike— scratching their heads with his abrasive ways.
On Feb. 21, 2017, Kupchak’s 92-year-old mother was visiting from New York. That morning, two days before the NBA’s trade deadline, Kupchak received the call informing him that he had been fired along with Jim Buss and John Black, the team’s longtime head of public relations. “I kind of knew that the situation was tenuous,” Kupchak said. “There was a lot going on. … It was a challenge. And nothing lasts forever, so I really was not that surprised.” Soon, he was in the car with his mother and sister, navigating the 405 Freeway toward LAX. “I had to take them to the airport like an hour after I got the phone call, so that was tough for them,” he said.
The Lakers front office was now in the hands of Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Kupchak’s former teammate with the Showtime Lakers. Kupchak checked in on his former colleagues who remained in place to explain what happened. “He called me and told me that morning,” said former Lakers assistant GM Glenn Carraro, who has since made a fresh start of his own by opening a pizzeria in Hollywood. “I was on my way to work. Everything that was going on, he felt that, ‘Hey, it’s business as usual.’ He just wanted to make sure I held down the fort and got everyone up to speed. So, I don’t think there was any animosity. He wanted to make sure we still did the right thing even though he wasn’t there anymore.”
They had to do that with a wounded Kobe Bryant, who sustained three season-ending injuries in his final four seasons. While rehabbing from a torn Achilles in November 2013, Bryant signed a two-year contract extension worth $48.5 million. More than five years later, Kupchak still defended the hefty contract. “We were lucky to have Kobe for his last two years,” Kupchak said, “because he really was a great distraction considering we were going through a rebuild and losing games. It was kind of like we were rebuilding under cover, but it was a rebuild.”
Lakers owner Jeanie Buss, president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka are all on the same page regarding Walton being the coach for the rest of the season, the people said. Buss especially wants to give Walton every opportunity to succeed, one person said. “Nothing is going to happen with Luke,” that person said. “There hasn’t even been any talk about it and there won’t be any talks about it. Luke will definitely finish the season and he has the full support. So any talk in the media or on social media can be put to bed about Luke. He’s not going anywhere. There has been no conversation about it.”
August 9, 2022 | 6:25 pm EDT Update
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the meeting took place this past Saturday, and Kevin Durant indicated that he could stay with Brooklyn if general manager Sean Marks and coach Steve Nash were no longer there. Understandably, peers of Marks and Nash were not happy. “I get that players have more power these days, but I think it’s a little too far if he’s out here trying to get Steve fired,” said one coach, who was quickly reminded of Magic Johnson’s fingerprints on Paul Westhead’s firing back in November of 1981 and other power plays, some of which may well have been justified.
The head of basketball ops from another club was similarly displeased. “Livid,” he said. “Livid. He and Kyrie (Irving) basically told Sean they were coming (as free agents in 2019), and Sean did pretty much everything they wanted after that. Signing DeAndre Jordan for four years? That’s something Kyrie and KD wanted. Getting James Harden? Then getting a guy who should be a perfect complement to them (Ben Simmons) when Harden wanted out? Sean did all that.”
However, when asked if he would welcome Durant to his own club should he be attainable at a fair price, the exec paused and laughed. “Well … ” he said. “OK, you got me there. But, see, that’s the part of this that will always be hard for some people to grasp. I’m talking about the fans who just see the players as employees. These guys are not interchangeable parts. You can’t just plug in someone else to do what KD does.”
Marc Stein: Dallas plans to hire former NBA swingman Marko Milič — Slovenia’s first NBA player — to join the coaching staff in player development, league sources confirm. Milič obviously knows Luka Dončić well and played with Jason Kidd in Phoenix. More NBA from me: marcstein.Substack.com
Detroit Pistons center Kelly Olynyk is a married man! The basketball star, 31, wed his longtime love Jackie McNulty, 31, in a traditional, yet playful, outdoor ceremony at Sunstone Winery in Santa Ynez, California Saturday, as personal guests of the winery’s owners.