NBA Rumors: Decision To Draft Lonzo Ball Reportedly Led To ‘Tension’ Between Magic Johnson And Jeanie Buss

Sean M. HaffeyGetty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers’ 2018-19 season has ended with the team finishing 37-45, missing the playoffs, and winning only two more games than they did last year despite LeBron James’ arrival as the team’s potential savior. This underwhelming performance, as well as the drama that preceded it, led to a lot of finger-pointing behind the scenes, and shortly before the Lakers’ final game of the season, team president Magic Johnson made the surprise announcement that he was stepping down from his post.

As reported on Tuesday by The Inquisitr, Johnson commented at the “impromptu” press conference where he announced his resignation that he loves Lakers team owner Jeanie Buss “like a sister.” Despite that, the two team executives didn’t exactly have a smooth relationship, and while many have theorized that the issues between Johnson and Buss might have started when James suffered a groin injury on Christmas Day, NBC Sports Bay Area wrote that the friction may have started around the time of the 2017 NBA Draft.

According to NBC Sports Bay Area, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith first reported in February that Buss and Johnson didn’t agree on whom to pick with the second overall selection in the 2017 draft, with the former preferring that the Lakers choose UCLA star freshman Lonzo Ball, and the latter preferring another highly-touted freshman point guard, Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox. This was corroborated on Tuesday by The Athletic‘s Bill Oram, who wrote that Buss’ insistence that Johnson draft Ball turned into a “tension point” between the executives.

So far, it appears that Fox, who was picked No. 5 overall in 2017, has had the better NBA career thus far. Playing for a Sacramento Kings team that came close to ending a long playoff drought this season, Fox had a breakout sophomore campaign and averaged 17.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, 7.3 assists, and 1.7 steals in 80 games, per Basketball-Reference. Meanwhile, Ball has shown flashes of brilliance while healthy, especially as a defender and floor leader, but has dealt with injuries and shooting struggles in his two NBA seasons since entering the league.

With Magic Johnson having wrapped up his tumultuous tenure as the Lakers’ president, there has been some speculation on the direction the organization could take going forward. According to a report from The Inquisitr, Fox Sports 1’s Colin Cowherd recently speculated that the Lakers could either “turn the team over to LeBron,” hire a coach and general manager he could work with, and chase New Orleans Pelicans big man Anthony Davis and a superstar free agent in the summer, or trade James to another team and “build a new culture” around younger players.