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.