Just days after taking Magic Johnson into the Lakers front office as an adviser, team president Jeanie Buss ousted her brother Jim and GM Mitch Kupchak and put Johnson in charge. The new president of basketball operations quickly made a trade for a first-round draft pick and looks ready to make Kobe Bryant's agent, Rob Pelinka, his general manager. Tuesday's regime change extended even to John Black, the Lakers' longtime media guy. I guess that's what happens when you are a bad, mistake-prone team and out of the playoffs for another year.
Johnson played for the Lakers from 1979 to 91, when he retired due to his infection with HIV, and came back to play again in 1995-96. He coached team for a stint in 1994 and held an ownership stake from then until 2010, when he divested and joined the ownership group that acquired the Dodgers from Frank McCourt. He's also a busy businessman, but Johnson says the Lakers will get all of his attention.
"Everything is going smooth in my businesses," Johnson told ESPN.com. "I can step away now. If it had been five years ago, 10 years ago, I couldn't do it, but the timing was right."
How's it going over? Well, Johnson himself acknowledges the Lakers are not a quick fix.
"I'm putting it all on the line," he said int he ESPN story. "But I knew that, also, when we got the Dodgers. I knew that when I bought the Sparks, but we won the championship. One thing about me is that I'm a risk-taker. If I didn't think I could turn this thing around, you think I'd be sitting in this seat? I think that we can do it. It may take us some years to do it, but I'm here."
Bill Plaschke at the LA Times says the Lakers fix is a tough challenge, not made easier that both Johnson and Pelinka are rookies at running a basketball franchise.
"This is not some late-night TV show that can be canceled. This is not an interim coaching position that ends after the season," Plaschke writes. "This is not partial ownership of a baseball team that doesn’t even require him to have an office. In being named the Lakers’ president of basketball operations Tuesday, Magic Johnson has been given a real job with real difficulties where failure will have a real impact on his legacy."
Pelinka, he says, "enters as a polarizing figure with a reputation for being aloof and dismissive during his time as Bryant’s representative... It is hoped Johnson’s hasty hiring of an old friend is not indicative of the way he will attempt to rebuild the franchise."
ESPN's panel of basketball journalists agree the Lakers might have, at most, three potential stars on the team now, and that any hopes of contending are a long way off.
Anyway, here's what Jeanie and Earvin say about it all. From Spectrum SportsNet.