In a stunning move to shake up their front office, the Lakers announced Tuesday morning that they have cleaned house of their top two basketball decision makers and elevated Magic Johnson from “advisor” to Jeanie Buss to the President of Basketball Operations. From the team’s press release:

Los Angeles Lakers Governor Jeanie Buss announced today that the team has named Earvin “Magic” Johnson as President of Basketball Operations. In addition, General Manager Mitch Kupchak has been relieved of his duties, effective immediately. Furthermore, Jim Buss will no longer hold his role as Lakers Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations.

“Today I took a series of actions I believe will return the Lakers to the heights Dr. Jerry Buss demanded and our fans rightly expect,” Jeanie Buss said. “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.”

While the move itself should not inspire surprise, the timing of it certainly should. The NBA Trade deadline is only two days away and the team just fired their GM and relieved the final say in basketball decisions. Just Sunday night there were reports that the Lakers were in conversations to acquire DeMarcus Cousins (before he was dealt to the Pelicans) and there have been ongoing rumors about the team being in active discussions about trading Lou Williams in advance of Thursday. Now the people who were on those calls and negotiating compensation are now no longer employed by the team! I am almost speechless.

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It’s no secret the Lakers have been active in the trade market this season. They were apparently interested in DeMarcus Cousins before he was dealt to the Pelicans and have also been mentioned as a team who is willing to trade off one or more of their veteran players for an asset which has more long term appeal.

The player whose name is most often mentioned as “on the block” is Lou Williams, a key performer for the Lakers all year who is under contract through next season at a very reasonable price tag. Williams is having his best season as a pro and the Lakers are seemingly ready to cash in on that value when it’s at its peak. As Pete and I discussed on the most recent Laker Film Room Podcast, one team which has been linked to Williams is the Washington Wizards.

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I’ve never seen a player actually be in the All-Star game and then get traded within an hour of when that game ended, but that’s exactly what happened Sunday night when the Kings dealt DeMarcus Cousins to the Pelicans for a package which is being widely mocked around the league.

Stemming from that deal was the report the Lakers were discussing a deal for Cousins themselves before refusing to include Brandon Ingram. In the latest episode of the Laker Film Room Podcast, Pete and I discuss that Lakers’ decision, trade rumors¬†focusing on Lou Williams, and what types of deals the team should explore heading into Thursday’s trade deadline.

Click through to listen the episode.

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So, All-Star Saturday night — one of my favorite nights — wasn’t that great. The three point contest never saw a guy get insanely hot and the dunk contest was filled with too many props — human or otherwise — for my liking.

I’ve always thought the key to a really good dunk contest is really simple: get some insanely athletic guys doing really clean, highlight level dunks on their first try. That’s what Jordan/Nique did, it’s what Vince Carter did, and it’s what LaVine and Gordon did last year. This year had some of that with Robinson and Jones showing off their amazing athleticism, but I think it also speaks to their relative obscurity as players that even this wasn’t enough. Oh well. Maybe next year.

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All-Star Saturday is one of my favorite nights the league we love has to offer. No, it’s not a playoff game or a league championship deciding contest, but it’s a night where the NBA gets to put on a show for its fans, offering some of the most skilled, athletic, and creative thinkers a chance to display their talents to the world.

There are few things more captivating, to me at least, than a great dunker playing to the crowd or one of the world’s best shooters getting hot and inviting you into his realm where that orange rim seemingly transforms into a hula-hoop sized cylinder. Tonight, then, I am hoping for a show and even if some parts will surely let us down, I expect we will get it one way or another.

Of course, nights like this are more fun when you have a rooting interest and if you’re a Lakers’ fan you have one tonight. For only the 3rd time in the history of the event, a Laker will compete in the 3-point contest, with Nick Young getting his proverbial shot to show he belongs in the conversation as one of the world’s best shooters.

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The Lakers may be on a break for another week, but a few of their players are in New Orleans for All-Star Weekend to compete in various events. The first of those commitments is tonight when D’Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram join up on the U.S. Team in the Rising Stars Challenge to face off against their World Team counterparts. A full roster and background of the game can be found here.

It’s a nice honor to be included in this game, but this isn’t something which should be be taken too seriously be fans since history tells us it certainly will not be by the players involved. There will be little to no defense played, players will be gunning for highlights, and guys will be hunting for their shots. It’s less a basketball game and more a game of 2K brought to life by 19-22 year olds.

In other words, this game will have little to no intensity and we’re all (including the coaches of both teams) just going to have to live with that.

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The Lakers 19-39 entering the All-Star festivities and in need of a break. I need a break,¬†so I know they do. The loss to the Suns was as bad a defeat as I’ve witnessed this year, not because of the final margin but because of the lack of attentiveness and care put into managing the game. They were careless with the ball offensively and as hapless defensively — especially in transition — I have seen this season. The Suns were treating fastbreaks like the All-Star game, throwing lobs and trying to dunk every time there was even a sliver of an opening.

So, this time away — at least I hope — will be useful. But beyond the chance to vacation on a beach somewhere and get away from the game for a week or so, the next time the Lakers take the floor will be after the trade deadline. Which, for this specific version of the Lakers, actually means something. This team has a load of young players and some veterans who might have some value who could be on the move. Even more than that, though, is that the team itself is actually looking to make moves.

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The Lakers lost to the Kings on Tuesday, a game which saw Lou Williams go supernova in the 4th quarter to bring the team back from a double-digit deficit to nearly pull out the win. Williams’ last second heave was wide right, but his work up to that point was thrilling even though I was frustrated by the number of possessions he was using and the time D’Angelo Russell spent on the bench because of it.

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