Lakers GM Rob Pelinka said Magic Johnson‘s blistering comments about him were “surprising” and “disheartening,” Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times tweets. Johnson, who resigned as president of basketball operations shortly before the season ended, accused Pelinka on ESPN’s First Take of “backstabbing” him for telling people around the league he wasn’t working hard enough. Pelinka responded to the accusation during coach Frank Vogel‘s introductory press conference.
“They’re just simply not true,” Pelinka said. “I stand beside him. I stand with him as a colleague and a partner. I’ve always supported everything he’s done and will continue to.”
According to an ESPN report, Pelinka spoke to Johnson two days ago regarding the team landing the fourth pick in the draft lottery.
We have more on the Lakers:
- Pelinka confirmed that the organization will not hire a president of basketball operations to replace Johnson, according to a post from ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk. Pelinka revealed that, in terms of decision-making, he consults with the basketball staff as well as senior adviser Kurt Rambis and then makes suggestions to owner Jeanie Buss.
- Pelinka vows that the turmoil surrounding the organization won’t prevent it from building a championship team as soon as next season, ESPN’s Dave McMenanim writes. “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,” he said. “So I think people can look at this as an opportunity to win a championship possibly next year.”
- Johnson blamed former Pelicans GM Dell Demps in the ESPN interview for leaking trade offers involving Anthony Davis prior to the trade deadline, Dan Feldman of NBC Sports relays. “I told Dell Demps, ‘Let’s just do it in private. What we offer, let’s keep it between us.’ Well, Dell didn’t do that. So, that’s how it got out,” Johnson said.
- Johnson also said during the First Take interview that his decision to trade D’Angelo Russell to the Nets was directly related to the issues he had with former Lakers guard Nick Young, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News writes. Russell pranked Young by goading his teammate into admitting that he cheated on his former fiancé, recording star Iggy Azalea. Russell posted the recording on his private Snapchat account but it became public.