“There was one time when Kobe, who I worked with for 18 years, was going back to play in Madison Square Garden, and he had just seen ‘The Dark Knight,'” Pelinka said. “Obviously, you guys saw that movie, and he’s like, ‘Hey, hook me up with dinner with Heath Ledger, because he got so locked into that role. I want to know how he mentally went there.’ So, he had dinner with Heath, and he talked about how he locks in for a role. “And Kobe used some of that in his game against the Knicks.” “The Dark Knight” was released in July 2008, six months after Ledger died. A source with direct knowledge said no such arrangement was made and no dinner ever took place.
In his remarks, Johnson expressed excitement about the task ahead, but he also made clear he didn't accept excuses or mistakes, and that those who weren't on board with the new management and their mission should leave, according to six staffers who were present.
Pointing upstairs, toward his office, Johnson drove home his point. He had a large stack of resumes sitting on his desk -- "a thousand" of them, multiple staffers recall him saying -- and he could replace any of them at any time. "It was shocking," said one Lakers coaching staff member who was present. "If you're going to be in this business, you bring enough pressure on yourself. You don't need more pressure, especially from someone who's supposed to be an ally."
The message would set the tone for what many staffers describe as Johnson's confrontational demeanor over the next two years. "If you questioned him on anything, his response was always a threatening tone," said a Lakers front office staffer who interacted with Johnson directly. "He used intimidation and bullying as a way of showing authority."
According to nearly two dozen current and former team staffers, ranging from occupants of executive suites to office cubicles, in addition to league sources and others close to the team, the Lakers under Johnson and Pelinka were fraught with dysfunction, on and off the court. These sources, who feared reprisal and weren't authorized to speak publicly, describe Pelinka and Johnson as managers who made unilateral free-agent acquisitions; triggered a spate of tampering investigations and fines; berated staffers, including Walton; and created an in-house culture that many current and former longtime staffers said marginalized their colleagues, inspired fear and led to feelings of anxiety severe enough that at least two staffers suffered panic attacks.
In the office, the staffer apologized and later, off site, began to cry, according to multiple people with knowledge of the incident. In the months ahead, she would suffer increased anxiety and panic attacks. She was prescribed anti-anxiety medication, quit the Lakers after more than two decades with the team, and began several weeks of therapy, multiple people familiar with the matter said. She gave her notice on Dec. 18, 2017, the same day Kobe Bryant's two jerseys were retired. A Lakers executive said he also suffered panic attacks and had to be prescribed anti-anxiety medication. "Every day you go in there and you get this horrible feeling of anxiety," the executive said. "In the last year, I can't tell you how many panic attacks I've had from the s--- that has happened there."
The Los Angeles Lakers have hired Judy Seto as Director of Sports Performance, it was announced today. Seto will report to General Manager Rob Pelinka and will oversee the medical care and optimize the health and performance of Lakers players. Seto most recently served as Director of Sports Performance for Select Physical Therapy, where she developed, designed and implemented sports science concepts and technology to maximize athletic performance, minimize injury risk and facilitate timely return to competition. Returning to the Lakers after serving as the team’s head physical therapist from 2011-16, she has previously worked in physical therapy roles with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles-based HealthSouth and the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic.
"I think if people take a look at where this franchise is right now, again we have a great coach, we have a high draft pick. We have a great young core, maybe one of the best in the league. We have a superstar on our team, and an open slot," Pelinka said Monday during Vogel's introductory news conference. "So I think people can look at this as an opportunity to win a championship possibly next year."
If Pelinka was telling people that Magic was mostly MIA, he wasn’t exactly spilling state secrets. This had been a topic of great discussion for quite some time, with innumerable other sources who saw it first-hand saying the same thing. One agent who deals with the Lakers, for example, found all the handwringing about Magic’s exit comical at the time because – duh – Pelinka had been running the front office without Johnson the entire time as it was.
“If you want to elevate yourself, I’m all for that,” Johnson said. “But there’s a way to get that, and it’s not talking about the person that’s above you.” Pelinka remains with the Lakers as general manager. “I didn’t like those things [Pelinka] was saying behind my back, that I wasn’t in the office enough,” Johnson said. “So I started getting calls from my friends outside of basketball saying those things now were said to them. … Not just in the Lakers, into the media and so on.”
Pelinka responded on Monday afternoon at the press conference to introduce Vogel. He said that he talked with Johnson two days prior about the team having the No. 4 pick in the draft and denied all of Johnson’s accusations. “It’s saddening and disheartening to think things (that are a) misperception,” Pelinka said. “I think all of us in life have been through things where there are third-party whispers or he-said-she-said things that aren’t true… These things are surprising to hear and disheartening, but I look forward to the opportunity to sit down with him and talk to him because it’s simply not true.”
Jeanie Buss had questioned Magic Johnson several times in the wake of his public resignation, asking to know if there were any issues with Rob Pelinka or anyone else in the organization. They spoke on the phone for hours. They went to a private dinner at Wally's in Beverly Hills on May 2. Multiple Lakers sources told ESPN that each time, Johnson said nothing beyond what he'd said on April 9 -- that he didn't feel like he could be Magic in this role and wanted his freedom back.
Kyle Goon: Rob Pelinka says that he reports to Jeanie Buss. The structure of basketball decisions will be that he will collaborate with the staff, make a recommendation to Jeanie Buss, and she'll accept it or not. He calls Kurt Rambis and Linda Rambis trusted advisors.
Adam Zagoria: Magic says Linda and Kurt Rambis are advising Jeanie Buss And ‘i think Phil Jackson advises her a little bit.’ ‘Somebody’s gotta be the leader. There’s too many voices.’
Jeanie Buss considered several options after Magic Johnson's departure, including replacing him, the source said. However she's since decided to continue with Rob Pelinka as her top basketball decision-maker. Kurt Rambis will remain as a special advisor.
Ramona Shelburne: The Lakers have decided they will not hire a President of Basketball Operations to replace Magic Johnson, a team source told ESPN. General manager Rob Pelinka will continue in his role, reporting directly to ownership. Pelinka had previously reported to Johnson
Linda Rambis, executive director, special projects. Don't let the title fool you: Rambis is Buss' longtime best friend and most trusted adviser. League sources have described her as a "shadow owner." And while the buzz over Rambis gaining the most influence in the organization has intensified since Johnson stepped down, the fact is she has been Buss' consigliere for four decades. Rambis, who was then Linda Zafrani, was one of the first hires by Jerry Buss when he purchased the Lakers in 1979, according to an article in The Beach Reporter. He reportedly introduced her to Jeanie and the two became friends and eventually worked together on the tennis and volleyball initiatives at The Forum.
Johnson hired Rambis, a former Lakers forward and assistant coach, to be an adviser to the president in September 2018. With Johnson gone, Rambis has emerged as a powerful voice in basketball operations and played a major role in the coaching search, as Wojnarowski reported. Rambis has held positions with several organizations over his career, from assistant coach to head coach to assistant general manager, many of them served under Jackson with the Lakers and Knicks. His most recent job before rejoining the Lakers was as associate head coach of the Knicks from 2014-15 to 2017-18. Wojnarowski reported Jackson and Rambis strongly considered Vogel's candidacy in New York before hiring Jeff Hornacek in 2016. Vogel would later tell New York reporters that he was surprised the Knicks didn't hire him based on how his interview with Jackson went.
According to a person familiar with the negotiations, it wasn't general manager Rob Pelinka but senior basketball adviser Kurt Rambis who orchestrated the Vogel hiring. He also made the move for Jason Kidd, who will serve on the bench as an assistant coach. Multiple executives, when polled, suggested the Lakers should make sure they have their front-office hierarchy established before hiring a coach, and it appears they have, with Rambis stepping into that role. One executive even called him the Lakers' "shadow president."
Vogel's emerging candidacy speaks to the significant influence of Lakers adviser Kurt Rambis and former coach Phil Jackson, whose opinions weigh heavily with owner Jeanie Buss. Vogel was the runner-up to Jeff Hornacek when Jackson hired a New York Knicks replacement for Derek Fisher in the summer of 2016. Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka has spent the past few days gathering information from those who have worked with both Vogel and Kidd about how they believe those two could complement each other on a Lakers coaching staff, league sources said.
Vogel was the runner up to Jeff Hornacek when Phil Jackson hired a replacement for Derek Fisher in the summer of 2016. Jackson remains strongly tied to a Lakers hierarchy that includes controlling owner Jeanie Buss and advisor Kurt Rambis.
In light of the failed pursuit of former Cleveland Cavaliers head Tyronn Lue by the Los Angeles Lakers, disgruntled fans are planning to stage a protest outside of Staples Center on Friday at 12 p.m. The protest was organized by Reddit user Charlie Rivers (u/C-P-R) in an effort to get the attention of Lakers controlling owner Jeanie Buss, who he says doesn’t care about the fans but “cares what the media says.”
It looks like Los Angeles Lakers owner Jeanie Buss is counting on general manager Rob Pelinka to turn the franchise around without any help. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Lakers reportedly told coaching candidates they won’t hire anyone above Pelinka and that he’s in charge. Magic Johnson stepped down from his president role before the season ended. Pelinka has been leading the coaching search. “I know they told all of the candidates who interviewed Rob is the GM,” Wojnarowski said on the Woj pod. “Rob is going to be in charge. That’s who you’re going to answer to. We’re not bringing in anybody in over him.”
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James didn’t believe it when he was told Magic Johnson had stepped down as president of basketball operations for the Lakers. In his first public comments since Johnson decided to leave the Lakers in April before the season ended, James relayed the story of how he found out from Randy Mims, James’ chief of staff. "My right hand comes to me and says, ‘Magic just stepped down,' " James said on HBO’s The Shop, which aired Saturday. "I’m like, 'You mean from out of his car? Get the (expletive) out of my face.' ... He’s like, 'Go check your phone.' "
James, who was in the Lakers’ locker room but not playing in that night’s game, checked his phone. Indeed, Johnson held an impromptu and bizarre news conference, informing reporters of his resignation. "No one had no idea," James said on his show. "We were like, 'Damn, like right now?' It was literally 70 minutes on the clock before (the game). I’m not playing, but my team is still playing, and you kind of decide to do that right here, right now. I feel like there’s a time and place for things, and I believe that you knew that you were going to make that decision, so why would you do it here and why would you do it now?"
"Personally for me, I came here to be a part of the Lakers organization, having a conversation with Magic (last summer) and really kind of breaking it down and saying how we were going to make this 'Showtime' again, and I wanted to be part of that process," James said.
"He explained to me Year 1 is going to be tough. ... But I was OK with the process. At Year 16, you aren’t really supposed to be worrying about no damn process, especially for me because I’m in championship-mind mode all the time. "So it was just weird for him to just be like, 'I'm out of here' and not even have no like, 'Hey Bron, kiss my (expletive). I’m out of here.' I would’ve been OK with that. 'Hey Bron, it’s Magic. Kiss my (expletive), I’m gone.' Not even that."
James and Paul met with Johnson and Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka on the Saturday before that franchise-altering press conference for what was essentially James’ exit interview. They talked about the team’s and James’ goals for the offseason, according to a person with knowledge of the meeting. There was no indication that Johnson was on his way out. Then, about 90 minutes before the finale to one of the most disappointing seasons in Lakers history, Johnson held an impromptu press conference. He told a throng of reporters he was stepping down because the job wasn’t making him happy, because he didn’t want to have to ask owner Jeanie Buss to fire Luke Walton as coach, and because he was tired of being accused of tampering with other teams’ players so frequently.
Tania Ganguli: The episode of The Shop that aired tonight was filmed April 11. Two days after Magic Johnson’s infamous press conference. In talking about Johnson’s move, LeBron James spoke as if he felt betrayed.
Both Los Angeles teams are seeking to hit the mother lode this summer but, as usual, they’re 180 degrees apart. The difference is that it’s the Clippers, once the local wretches, who have it together, coming off a surprising season and a heroic effort in their first-round loss to the Warriors with a strong nucleus, a sharp front office, achievable goals and only modest expectations, as in who ever notices what they do?
At this crossroad, the Lakers are still preeminent in town. Horrid as their season was, and noble as the Clippers’ season was, the Lakers had a 2.23 cable, more than four times the Clippers’ 0.56 rating. Unfortunately for the Lakers, they’re at a low ebb with sky high goals and huge expectations but new, uncertain management and no nucleus to speak of, since they would trade any, or all, of their players aside from LeBron James. The teams have one thing in common: About to commit the huge cap room they spent years accumulating, this is their last, best chance to be someone.
Nobody knows for certain who is running the Los Angeles Lakers right now. Rob Pelinka seems to be entrenched as the general manager of the team, but there is still a stubborn faction of reporters convinced that a new president of basketball operations is coming before the offseason begins in earnest. Jeanie Buss is the team's owner, but according to Amin Elhassan on ESPN (via Dan Feldman of NBC Sports), Linda Rambis is the one that's actually pulling the strings. "Some agents and GMs around the league have dubbed her the shadow owner of the Lakers, that everything goes through Linda Rambis, and if you want to convince Jeanie of something, you’ve got to get Linda first." Ramona Shelburne later confirmed this as the status quo in Lakerland.
And now, with less than three months remaining before free agency formally begins and with the Anthony Davis trade talks with New Orleans expected to re-start as well, this question remains: Is Pelinka capable of steering the Lakers out of this abyss — hiring the right coach to replace the departed Luke Walton, closing a deal or two along the way — and fulfilling their title-contending dreams? It depends on whom you ask, but the vast majority of agents and executives polled by The Athletic have serious doubts. Pelinka has no shortage of detractors around the league, with the issues raised ranging from his trustworthiness to his communication style and relatability. The question of trust has dogged Pelinka since 2004, when his then-client Carlos Boozer reneged on a verbal commitment to re-sign with Cleveland and took a more lucrative offer with Utah.
But there are also respected power brokers who say they’ve had functional and positive experiences dealing with Pelinka, and who believe that his background as a player (he went to two Finals Fours with those Fab Five Michigan teams), attorney and prominent agent who built and ran his own agency is a fit for the Lakers. What’s more, Pelinka was widely known to be handling the lion’s share of the daily duties before Johnson’s departure. He was, in essence, running the front office already.
Yet while rumblings remain that Buss might replace Johnson with an elite front office executive at some point, and with so much pressure from local and national media to conduct a comprehensive search for a new president of basketball operations who isn’t required to have deep Lakers ties, a source with knowledge of her plan insists that this front office is Pelinka’s to run. At least for now.
According to sources, the Lakers never reached out to LeBron’s former general manager in Cleveland, David Griffin, before he agreed to join New Orleans. Sources also say that they haven’t reached out to the Warriors regarding general manager Bob Myers. Ditto for Jerry West, the Clippers consultant who told The Athletic recently that he wasn’t sure what his future held past this summer but who now appears likely to remain in his current role going forward. (Ideas had circulated about West possibly heading for the Lakers alongside a younger, high-level GM.)
The Lakers remain holed up with no team official having appeared in public since Magic Johnson resigned April 9. Jeanie Buss is reportedly going forward with Rob Pelinka but has yet to confirm that, or let him appear to reassure fans... and free agents... that they’re still the Lakers, proceeding on the same agenda. As little as Pelinka’s controversy-filled career as an agent prepared him for this, he’s a bright guy who can handle himself in public. Jeanie won’t even trust him with that.
Criticized for not looking outside the organization, Jeanie’s answer is More Family. A veritable delegation of Busses went to Philadelphia last week to interview 76er assistant coach Monty Williams: Jeanie, Jesse Buss, Joey Buss, plus Pelinka, Linda and Kurt Rambis and Tim Harris, yet another Laker executive who hasn’t participated in basketball ops until now. Ominously for the Lakers, July 1 is looming with free agents gathering final impressions of who’s dynamic and who’s defunct.
Yet while rumblings remain that Buss might replace Johnson with an elite front office executive at some point, and with so much pressure from local and national media to conduct a comprehensive search for a new president of basketball operations who isn’t required to have deep Lakers ties, a source with knowledge of Jeanie’s plan insists that this front office is Pelinka’s to run. At least for now.
According to sources, the Lakers never reached out to LeBron’s former general manager in Cleveland, Dave Griffin, before he agreed to join New Orleans. Sources also say that they haven’t reached out to the Warriors regarding general manager Bob Myers. Ditto for Jerry West, the Clippers consultant who told The Athletic recently that he wasn’t sure what his future held past this summer but now appears likely to remain in his current role going forward (ideas had circulated about West possibly heading for the Lakers alongside a younger, high-level GM). Pat Riley’s name has been discussed in media circles as well – and his ties to LeBron from their Miami days as well as the Lakers organization would certainly qualify as a unique and high-level fit – but the Heat president made it clear in his postseason press conference that he has no interest.
The real reasons for Magic’s departure remain somewhat murky, but a source with knowledge of the situation adamantly denied the report indicating that Jeanie had mistakenly shared e-mails with Johnson that were critical of his job performance. Johnson did his best to break it all down during that surreal press conference in which he announced that he was done, but the truth is that it simply doesn’t matter anymore.
Kidd's interview was with general manager Rob Pelinka, as well as team executive Kurt Rambis and was conducted at the team's practice facility in El Segundo, California. The interview with the Hall of Fame point guard lasted for several hours, sources told ESPN.
On April 9, Magic Johnson resigned as the Lakers’ president of basketball operations, telling reporters before telling Jeanie 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.
Empowered by Buss to run the coaching search, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka met with Tyronn Lue and Monty Williams this week, with plans to interview both again next week. While those second interviews have not been officially scheduled yet, they are expected to include Buss.
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.”
June 30, 2022 | 3:35 pm EDT Update
Keith Smith: Talking to folks around the NBA the belief is that everything is going to pause with the opening of free agency until Kevin Durant’s next home is decided. Every team and player will sit mostly still until Durant is traded. Then the flood will happen.
The Miami Heat are another one of Durant’s preferences. They will have no problem matching salaries for Durant assuming a combination of Kyle Lowry, Duncan Robinson, and Tyler Herro, but they lack the draft equity other teams have to offer. They are limited to trading two first-round picks in 2027 (first available draft) and 2029. They could also include Nikola Jovic and some of their talented minimum role players.
There is a handful of ways the Hawks can get to $35.2 million in outgoing salary to match for Durant. John Collins, whose name has been all overtrade rumors all last week, would be a great start with his $23.5 million salary. After that, one of Bogdan Bogdanovic, Kevin Huerter, or Clint Capela would be enough to match salaries. It’s possible Brooklyn could look to get off Joe Harris and his remaining $38.6 million through 2023-24. If that’s a requirement, Atlanta could get there with a package including Collins, Bogdanovic, and Hunter.