Unexpectedly, Magic Johnson has stepped down as president of basketball operations for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Johnson made the announcement Tuesday earlier than the beginning of the Lakers-Portland Trail Blazers recreation at Staples Center.
Johnson instructed reporters he made the choice due to his relationship with Lakers proprietor Jeanie Buss.
“I want to always preserve our relationship with her,” an emotional Johnson mentioned, “and I think I had more fun when I was able to be the big brother and ambassador.”
It was such a surprising transfer, Johnson mentioned he had not but instructed Buss of his choice.
“Somebody’s going to have to tell my boss because I knew I couldn’t be face-to-face and tell her,” Johnson instructed reporters.
The shocking and surreal announcement from the Lakers legend comes on the tail finish of a disappointing and irritating season for the Lakers. They signed LeBron James within the offseason, however a flawed roster mixed with accidents, together with one to James, torpedoed the Lakers’ season. They have been 20-14 and in fourth place within the Western Conference after beating Golden State on Christmas Day. But James was injured in that recreation, and Los Angeles went 6-11 with out him. They by no means recovered and didn’t make the playoffs for a franchise-record sixth straight season.
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Johnson indicated in an impromptu information convention that he was in an uncomfortable place between Buss and Lakers coach Luke Walton. It was anticipated that Walton could be fired after the season as a result of he was not employed by Johnson or common supervisor Rob Pelinka.
“(On Wednesday) I would have to affect somebody’s livelihood and their life,” Johnson mentioned. “And I thought about it and I said, ‘That’s not fun for me. That’s not who I am.’ And then I don’t want to put her in the middle of us, even though she said, ‘Hey, you can do what you want to do.’ I know she has great love for him and great love for me.”
He additionally mentioned: “It’s hard when you love an organization the way I love this organization. It’s hard when you love a person like I love Jeanie. I don’t want to hurt her. And I love Luke.”
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Buss tweeted later Tuesday night time:
“Earvin, I loved working side by side with you. You’ve brought us a long way. We will continue the journey. We love you”
Now what? That leaves Pelinka in a tough place. Does he preserve Walton? And how does he make the roster higher? Or, does Pelinka even stay GM? Will the Lakers substitute Johnson? If so, it is going to be one other sought-after place.
Johnson additionally mentioned any choice on Pelinka’s or Walton’s job standing is as much as Buss.
“I’m telling you we’re in a good position,” Johnson instructed reporters. “Next year we’re going to be good. If we get another one of these guys we’re going to be really good.”
Magic Johnson has stepped down as Lakers president of basketball operations. (Photo: Gary A. Vasquez, USA TODAY Sports)
The Lakers issued a press release later Tuesday night time that learn:
“There is not any better Los Angeles Laker than Earvin Johnson. We are deeply grateful to Magic for all that he has performed for our franchise – as a participant, an envoy and govt.
“We thank him for his work these previous two years as President of Basketball Operations and want him, Cookie, Andre, EJ and Elisa all one of the best with their subsequent steps. He will all the time be not solely a Lakers icon, however our household.
“As we begin the process of moving forward, we will work in a measured and methodical fashion to make the right moves for the future of our organization.”
Johnson was named president of basketball operations in February 2017, and Johnson had mentioned that if the Lakers weren’t in good condition in two seasons, he would resign.
“If I can’t deliver, I’m going to step down myself,” Johnson mentioned after the 2018 draft however earlier than James introduced his choice to play for the Lakers. “(Buss) won’t have to fire me. I’ll step away from it. Because then, I can’t do this job.”
Then, James signed with Los Angeles, and it seemed just like the Lakers have been headed in the suitable path.
It was an awkward front-office dynamic. Johnson had little experience running and building a team, and Pelinka was a long-time agent before taking this high-profile job.
It is obvious Johnson did not like to operate within NBA rules that forbid tampering or talking about and with players on other teams. He said he felt handcuffed in the job. The incident with Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons in which Johnson offered to help Simmons bothered him. Johnson also said he wanted to congratulate Russell Westbrook on his 20-point, 20-rebound, 20-assist performance but felt he couldn’t because of league rules. The Lakers and Johnson were fined multiple times for tampering-related issues.
“I thought about Dwyane Wade retiring (Wednesday), and I can’t even tweet that out or be there,” Johnson said. “Serena Williams called me a week ago and said, ‘Will you mentor me and be on my advisory board?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I’m going to do that.’
“So when Ben Simmons called and we went through the proper channels and they made me look like the bad guy out of that situation, but I didn’t do anything wrong … I was thinking about all those times, all those guys who want me to mentor them or be a part of their lives, and I can’t even do that. I had more fun on the other side.”
Perhaps, Johnson is not suited to work for an NBA team.
He acknowledged, “I was happier when I wasn’t president.”
Follow Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt