Los Angeles Lakers owner Jeanie Buss made sweeping changes to the team’s front office earlier than some expected, casting out general manager Mitch Kupchak and vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss.
Jeanie replaced her brother with her longtime personal friend and Lakers legend Magic Johnson, naming the previous advisor as the team’s new president of basketball operations. That was followed by the hiring of Rob Pelinka as general manager.
In a recent appearance on “The Full 48 Podcast,” Jeanie told Howard Beck that once she brought in Johnson, she was happy to learn they shared the same view on how to build the Lakers moving forward:
“When Magic got involved last year, we sat down and had conversations about, kind of what do you see, how do you see the game and what do you want to see happen? I said, ‘Do we have anybody on the team now that you could build the team around?’ And he said, ‘Well, I don’t think any of them are ready. You might, but that’s not clear yet.’ He said, ‘I would build a team for Luke Walton, the way he coaches. That’s what I would do.’ So when he said that, I knew he and I were on the same page in terms of backing the coach that we had, knowing his vision and putting together a team that would fit the style of basketball he wants to play. So every move has been about that, about getting the type of player that fits the style Luke Walton has brought to this Laker team.”
Johnson’s and Jeanie’s immediate and public commitment to Luke Walton as Lakers head coach was notable for a few reasons. For one, many new front offices want to bring in “their guy” right away, often quickly doing away with a head coach hired by the previous regime.
But Johnson hasn’t shown any desire to do that, and based on the progress Walton led the young Lakers to both in their individual games and on defense this season, he made a strong case as the coach the team should remain committed to.