Over the past few seasons, LeBron James developed a reputation as being the ‘general manager’ while with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The team obviously had someone with that title, but many believed that James was who made decisions on trades and signings of free agents.
President of basketball operations Magic Johnson acknowledged the Lakers front office would run personnel decisions by James. While Johnson added he would reside as the top ‘decision-maker,’ it led some to believe that James would have ultimate power.
Lakers owner Jeanie Buss disagrees, however. During a recent appearance on “Willard and Plaschke,” Buss made it clear that basketball decisions run through Johnson and at his discretion:
“When you talk about who’s running the basketball side of the Lakers, Magic Johnson is the head of basketball. He makes all basketball decisions. He is the one that laid down the path that led to bringing LeBron here, he is at the top of the organizational chart when it comes to basketball, and he’s done a fantastic job.”
It is normal for any front office to talk to a star player about potential personnel moves as the hope is that they are a good fit. Asking for a player’s input, however, doesn’t mean that what they want will be done. The front office will ultimately have final say.
For the Lakers, that means what Johnson wants will take precedent. He and LeBron nonetheless held discussions during and after free agency. James reaffirmed that by giving the signings of Michael Beasley, JaVale McGee, Rajon Rondo and Lance Stephenson his public stamp of approval.
Ever since sweeping changes in the Lakers basketball operations department, Buss, Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka have been on the same page. The addition of James has not changed that in any way.