During the 2016-17 NBA season, Los Angeles Lakers owner and president Jeanie Buss made an extremely difficult decision to take drastic action and overhaul the front office by hiring president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka in charge.
While the previous regime was able to establish a young core through the NBA Draft, they could not sign an All-Star-caliber player to speed up the rebuilding process. Instead, they signed Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov to four-year deals worth a combined $136 million.
In less than two years, Johnson and Pelinka have completely changed the outlook of the storied franchise. Highlighted by signing LeBron James in this summer’s free agency, the Lakers will also have a projected $38 million in cap space for 2019 free agency, which should feature Kawhi Leonard and others.
At “Evening with the Lakers,” Buss detailed why they have been successful since the front office change, viaESPN L.A. Radio:
“I knew that Magic would come in and have a vision of what Laker basketball should be. I felt that’s kind of what we had been missing for a while. I knew it was going to take time, but I knew that Magic would set the vision. And then having somebody like Rob Pelinka, who understands the players, the CBA, how to put together a roster, the two of them together have set a course that now I can see where all the decisions are leading us to what Laker basketball is meant to be. I’m thrilled with the job that they’ve done. I can’t believe how quickly the roster has changed and really that every choice and decision has complemented the decision before. The continuity, I think, has really led us to more success and will lead us to even more.”
Although there was optimism when Johnson and Pelinka took over, Buss recently mentioned that they have exceeded expectations heading into the 2018-19 season.
From a team that had two of the worst contracts in the league and no draft picks as a result of the Dwight Howard and Steve Nash trades, it has been quite the turnaround. However, the Lakers understand the job is not finished until they win their first championshiip since the 2009-10 season.