Magic Johnson Talks Pelinka, Lakers, Walton, Lue

Former Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson didn’t hold back during an appearance on ESPN’s First Take this morning, accusing general manager Rob Pelinka of “betrayal,” as Ohm Youngmisuk of writes. Johnson made it clear that Pelinka was the person he was referring to when he spoke during his resignation announcement about “backstabbing” within the organization.

“I start hearing, ‘Magic, you are not working hard enough. Magic’s not in the office,'” Johnson said. “People around the Lakers office were telling me Rob was saying things, Rob Pelinka, and I didn’t like those things being said behind my back, that I wasn’t in the office enough. So I started getting calls from my friends outside of basketball saying those things now were said to them outside of basketball now, just not in the Lakers office anymore.”

According to Johnson, he was prepared to help groom Pelinka as his eventual replacement atop the Lakers’ front office, but felt as if the GM was angling for his job sooner, and ultimately decided he couldn’t work alongside someone he thought was trying to undercut him. Asked whether there were others in the front office he felt betrayed by, Johnson only identified Pelinka.

“Just Rob,” Johnson said. “Other people didn’t bother me… what happened was I wasn’t having fun coming to work anymore, especially when I got to work beside you, knowing that you want my position.”

Here’s more from Johnson’s eventful TV appearance:

  • In Magic’s view, there were too many cooks in the kitchen in the Lakers’ basketball operations department, writes Youngmisuk. Johnson specifically singled out president of business operations Tim Harris as an executive whose role and influence in basketball operations became outsized.
  • Harris became involved in the head coaching decision after Johnson and owner Jeanie Buss debated the merits of firing head coach Luke Walton, according to Magic. Johnson wanted to replace Walton, but Buss apparently wavered on giving him the go-ahead to do so, as Youngmisuk details. “We went back and forth like that and then she brought Tim Harris into the meeting. Some of the guys and Tim wanted to keep [Walton] because he was friends with him. I said when I looked up, I only really answer to Jeanie Buss,” Johnson said. “Now I got Tim involved. It’s time for me to go. I got things happening that were being said behind my back. I don’t have the power I thought I had to make decisions. And I told them, when it is not fun for me, when I think I don’t have the decision-making power I thought I had, I got to step aside.”
  • Johnson indicated that Tyronn Lue would have been his choice to replace Walton as the team’s new head coach (Twitter link via Clevis Murray of The Athletic).
  • Discussing the Lakers’ 2018 free agent decisions, Johnson said that the Lakers didn’t want to offer Julius Randle a contract longer than one year, adding that Randle may not have been a fit anyway if he had remained on the roster (Twitter link via Murray).
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28 thoughts on “Magic Johnson Talks Pelinka, Lakers, Walton, Lue

  1. OCTraveler

    Gotta love Magic – leaves because he says there’s too many cooks and now continues to stir the pot from the outside … if you’re going to leave, then leave and keep your comments to yourself or your “inner circle” but not in ESPN

    • jkoms57

      And basically called Pelinka a traitor because he called him out for playing hooky from work.

      All the dumb dumbs now think Rob is a jerk without putting in perspective that maybe he was right.

    • Senioreditor

      Agree 100%. Just leave, why trash him in the media? Maybe Magic was the problem after all? Jenie has moved on and backed Pelinka. I’m guessing that’s a telling sign.

      • knickscavsfan

        Yeah……he has a contract and she’s still paying him.

        I believe Johnson. It’s obvious there are too many ppl in the decision making process. He was the President. Should’t be anyone else between him and ownership.

        Jenny knew what she was getting with Magic. He was not going to be in the office for 40-50 hours a week.

        I’m not saying Rob didn’t have a point but I would suggest if Jenny ok’d him then he should’ve known.

        • jkoms57

          Rob is one heck of a GM.

          Will be funny when he pulls off what Magic couldn’t.. land AD, get Lakers in the playoffs, and oh ya not be a sellout quitting POS.

  2. hunthutch

    Pelican was completely right … magic was to pre occupied with his other businesses he didn’t focus enough attention to the Lakers for the billet he was holding .

        • x%sure

          The Pelicans thought the Lakers had a leaker during the AD negotiations, and here is Magic gabbing to the press. So “Pelican was completely right”?

          Now about “the billet he was holding”…

          • jkoms57

            Magic is just such a scumbag. I can’t believe it.

            I’m a Lakers fan and this dude shouldnt even show face anymore.

            Funny how he tried to expose the Lakers, but really exposed himself as an entitled jerk.

  3. imindless

    Lmao magic comes across as a lazy pos and pandering for people to side with him. This was bush league to do the show and air out something that was factually true being magic wasnt a good executive. From repeated fines to not being at work and getting all the credit. Im sure rob could do the job better out of the box day one than magic could. I laughed at the grooming rob part, you sure about that magic what could rob learn from you?


      Agree 100%…..I also laughed at the grooming part. He was thrown in with no experience himself. Funny how a title given out by a company all the sudden makes you a professional. That’s the problem, Magic wasn’t experienced enough for the job.

  4. Vizionaire

    sell the lakers! you kids have no ideas how to run the lakers like your father did.

  5. Feel sorry for Magic, when you are given something at work, & then you find out you don’t have it, but still is your name on it… not cool! Anyway is way too much hate in here for Magic, probably all the Jordan fans, as seeing Magic is closer to the GOAT title than Jordan was, but what the heck, who cares. I for one I liked Magic as a president, way better than what is left in there, the Buss’, the Rambis’, Harris, Pelinka… a bunch of losers that know nothing at all about basketball.

    • Havlicek stole the ball

      ??? Really? I’ve come across people trying to defend that the GOAT was Jabbar, Wilt and even Russell, but it’s the first time I hear “Magic is in the conversation”. Of course it comes from someone trying to defend Magic’s job as Lakers president so…

  6. madmanTX

    Such a great interview telling us how messed up the Lakers are. Hope they stay that way. Maybe they should hire LaVar Ball to be GM or Head Coach. That would be great, wouldn’t it?

  7. He’s saying Pelinka is a snake (well, a guy wouldn’t be much of a player agent if he were otherwise). So, sorry, Magic, you hired him, instead of an experienced FO guy (even though you also lacked experience in this role, and were intending to be the lead salesman in FA). You expected a guy like this to not take every opportunity to sell himself-?

    On Walton, he may have a point. I don’t know. But was leaving her in the lurch enough. Why, now, put in play the one thing you originally said was most important to you (not damaging his relationship with Jeanie). You’re saying her organization is a mess. If she can still be a little sister to you after that, then you really have a close friend.

  8. bowserhound

    The biggest takeaway I got from this is that Jeannie is listening to the wrong people and she can’t say no to anyone. Bad structure.

  9. hansel2525

    Every time Magic opens his mouth he sounds dumber and dumber. He was a great player and he’s used that to get front opportunities. He’s failed at that. The fact he keeps stirring the pot is embarrassing. Move on pal.

  10. Guest617

    sounds like the fat kid at preschool who didn’t get their toy – maybe AD doesn’t want to team with the most toxic cancer in the league

    • kenleyfornia2

      If you think Lebron James is the “most toxic cancer” in the leauge you should be wearing a helmet at all times.

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