The Los Angeles Lakers made headlines Tuesday after announcing that Mitch Kupchak was relieved of his general manager duties and Jim Buss would no longer serve as executive vice president of basketball operations. The team announced that former LA point guard, Magic Johnson would be taking over as President of Basketball Operations.
The firing of Kupchak and Buss has been a long time coming. Their recent ineffective hiring decisions, recruiting and drafting has left little to be desired for Lakers Nation. For a team with a longstanding history of winning, their last championship was in 2010 and their last playoff appearance in 2013 resulted in a first round sweep by the San Antonio Spurs. The current state of the Los Angeles Lakers is the complete opposite of how the late Dr. Jerry Buss led the team to greatness throughout the 80s and 90s.
Jeanie Buss’ decision to hire Hall of Famer and five time NBA champion, Magic Johnson can either make or break the organization. On one hand even after retiring, Johnson has remained close to the Lakers organization and has been very vocal about the team’s shortcomings. Bringing someone with his basketball and business acumen could be just what the Lakers need to move past this slump. On the other hand, Johnson has limited front office experience combined with having a new GM Sports agent Rob Pelinka, a rookie head coach and a young team that can’t seem win games; it’s possible that someone with more experience may have been a better choice to turn this team around.
Part-owner Jeanie Buss said the following regarding Johnson’s new role and the search for a GM to replace Kupchak:
Today I took a series of actions I believe will return the Lakers to the heights [late owner] Dr. Jerry Buss demanded and our fans rightly expect. Effective immediately, Earvin Johnson will be in charge of all basketball operations and will report directly to me. Our search for a new general manager to work with Earvin and coach Luke Walton is well underway and we hope to announce a new general manager in short order. Together, Earvin, Luke and our new general manager will establish the foundation for the next generation of Los Angeles Lakers greatness.
Magic Johnson also commented on his elevation to President of Basketball Operations, saying:
It’s a dream come true to return to the Lakers as President of Basketball Operations working closely with Jeanie Buss and the Buss family. Since 1979, I’ve been a part of the Laker Nation and I’m passionate about this organization. I will do everything I can to build a winning culture on and off the court. We have a great coach in [Walton] and good young players. We will work tirelessly to return our Los Angeles Lakers to NBA champions.
Johnson knows that his new position with the Lakers isn’t a job that will be done overnight and that it’s going to require a process. “I wouldn’t be sitting here if it was a good situation…I understand what I’m up against, but I’m here, and I’m here for the long haul, and eventually we will turn it around.”
The Lakers won five championships with former GM Mitch Kupchak and two with Jim Buss; however they are currently at the bottom of the western conference with a record of 19-39. Last season the team finished 17-65.