The Los Angeles Lakers shocked the basketball world by making a major move two days before the trade deadline. This move, however, didn't involve any players—any current players, that is.
Magic Johnson, legendary player, businessman, and tweeter of obvious tweets, has just been given the keys to the purple-and-gold kingdom, as owner/franchise governor Jeanie Buss has named the Laker great president of basketball operations. On February 2, Buss brought Magic on as a special advisor. One week later, he said that although he was just learning about the CBA and salary cap, he wanted to "call the shots" for the franchise. Not two weeks after, that dream is now a reality.
Johnson's ascent comes alongside a host of other changes at the top of LA's front office. General Manager Mitch Kupchak, who has been with the organization for three decades and numerous championship seasons, has been fired. Jim Buss, Jeanie's brother and co-owner, has been dropped as VP of basketball operations.
"Effective immediately, Earvin Johnson will be in charge of all basketball operations and will report directly to me," Jeanie Buss said in a press release. "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."
As for Jeanie's brother: "Although [Jim] will no longer be responsible for basketball personnel decisions, he is an owner of this team and we share the same goal: returning the Lakers to the level of greatness our father demanded."
The Lakers expect championships, and Magic Johnson has already expressed some very unique thoughts on what it takes to win one:
The return of an iconic player, the sacking of a longtime general manager, and the culmination of a sibling power-struggle would provide more than enough drama at any time of the year; the fact that this is all going down a shade over 48 hours before the trade deadline is absurd.
The Lakers decided to completely clean house with 24 games left in the season. What a mess. Team employees are shell-shocked.
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) February 21, 2017
Does anyone left on the Lakers staff know how to actually conduct a trade call with two days left before the trade deadline?
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) February 21, 201
One thing is certain: If only the Lakers had brought Magic on board last year, they might have been able to use his keen insight to pursue Kevin Durant.
Kevin Durant scored 37pts against the Warriors tonight! I hope the Lakers' Jim Buss was watching, because that's who we need next season.
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) February 28, 2016
For now, the Lakers' future rests on Magic's shoulders. Will he choose a new GM and hand over full autonomy, or will he try to run the front office by himself? LA fans will just have to wait and see.