Magic Johnson, the NBA legend who played for his entire career with the Los Angeles Lakers, abruptly announced at the end of the season that he was stepping down from his position as the top front office decision-maker for the team. Johnson, it was reported at the time, had not told the team’s owner, Jeanie Buss, about his decision before he spoke to the media on April 9.
Johnson quit, in part, because he wanted to get back to his busy life and felt his time was too constrained by his Lakers responsibilities. But a new report says the resignation doesn’t mean Johnson will cease to have any involvement with the team.
According to The Los Angeles Times, Johnson “is still expected to be part of the Lakers’ free-agent recruiting this summer in some capacity.” In addition, the report said, the team does not plan to replace Johnson, and Rob Pelinka, who was hired as the team’s general manager in 2017 at the same time as Johnson, will continue in that role.
Johnson, during his time in the Lakers’ front office, was often a key part of free agent meetings, including the one in the summer of 2018 that resulted in superstar LeBron James joining the Lakers. However, James is the only major free agent to choose the Lakers during Magic’s time at the helm, and the Lakers legend was not able to add a second star following James’ arrival, either by free agency or trade.
The idea of free agent recruiting nearly got Johnson in trouble during the season when Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers expressed a desire to meet with Johnson in order to pick the brain of an all-time great of the game, who was also a taller-than-average point guard. This triggered a league tampering investigation, per Philly Voice, although the Lakers and Johnson were ultimately cleared.
Jeanie Buss, the daughter of the team’s longtime late owner Jerry Buss, is currently focused on the team’s search for a new coach to replace Luke Walton after he parted ways with the team a few days after Johnson resigned. The two leading candidates to coach the team are Monty Williams and Tyronn Lue, each of whom have already had interviews.
The Lakers, this offseason, are expected to continue their pursuit by way of trade of New Orleans big man Anthony Davis and also look at the robust NBA free agent market. The Lakers tried and failed to acquire Davis during the season, and now both Johnson and New Orleans general manager Dell Demps are no longer in their former jobs.