The Lakers officially named Magic Johnson an advisor at the start of February, but in the weeks leading up to his promotion, Johnson wasn’t being kept apprised of the goings-on in the team’s front office, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. As Shelburne details in her inside look at the Lakers’ front office shakeup, Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak continued to run team business without integrating Johnson or even informing him of what they were planning.
In one case, that meant conducting a workout with Larry Sanders without inviting Johnson to attend. It also meant that Johnson had to inquire about trade calls on his own, since Buss and Kupchak weren’t telling him about them, let alone asking his opinion. The fact that Johnson wasn’t been involved in the decision-making process was one reason why president Jeanie Buss felt it was necessary to make a change just days before the trade deadline, writes Shelburne.
Let’s round up a few other Lakers items, including more from Shelburne’s piece…
- Another key factor in Jeanie Buss‘ decision to oust Jim Buss and Kupchak in favor of Johnson was the way DeMarcus Cousins talks with the Kings were handled. According to Shelburne, Johnson received a call from Sacramento GM Vlade Divac, but since Magic was still just a consultant at that point, he referred Divac to Buss and Kupchak. Divac wanted to move quickly on a Cousins deal and was meeting with Pelicans GM Dell Demps in person at the All-Star Game in New Orleans, but could only talk to Buss and Kupchak on the phone, slowing negotiations.
- As Shelburne explains, Jeanie Buss wanted a heads-up if the Lakers were discussing any of their three previous lottery picks – Brandon Ingram, D’Angelo Russell, and Julius Randle – in trade talks. The talks with the Kings involved two of those three players, but Jeanie and Magic were kept out of the loop until Sacramento had essentially finalized a deal with New Orleans.
- According to Shelburne, the Jazz had offered a first-round pick for Lou Williams before Johnson took over as the Lakers’ president of basketball operations, but that proposal was off the table by the time he was promoted.
- Shelburne’s piece includes several more interesting items about Lakers ownership, the tension between the Buss brothers and Johnson, and a possible role for Kobe Bryant, among other topics, so it’s worth checking out in full.
- Speaking of Kobe, the future Hall-of-Famer publicly endorsed the Lakers’ choice of his former agent Rob Pelinka for general manager (Twitter link). Head coach Luke Walton is “excited” to begin working with Pelinka, as Mark Medina of The O.C. Register details.
- Legal experts say that Jeanie Buss is well positioned to retain control of the Lakers franchise even if her brothers attempt to oust her, writes Nathan Fenno of The Los Angeles Times. Shelburne’s report suggests that Janie Buss believes Jim and Johnny Buss hope to eventually cash out.