With the Los Angeles Lakers in the midst of another disappointing season, controlling owner made the swift and stunning decision to remove her brother, Jim, and general manager Mitch Kuphcak from the team’s front office.
Jeanie elevated Magic Johnson from an advisory role to Lakers president of basketball operations. Rob Pelinka was hired as general manager shortly after.
Working cohesively with Buss, Johnson and Pelinka have overhauled the Lakers and put them back on a trajectory toward restoring the franchise to its former glory.
During her interview on the “The Rich Eisen Show,” Buss praised Johnson and Pelinka for accomplishing more than she expected thus far:
“I have complete faith in Magic Johnson in terms of his ability to be a leader, to know how to put together a winner. And I have patience. I think what he’s done has exceeded my expectations. How quickly they’ve kind of turned around the roster. I think Rob Pelinka has done a great job handling the salary cap. It’s really important. … Together, they knew what they wanted.”
In their time leading the Lakers front office, Johnson and Pelinka created salary cap flexibility that put them in position to sign LeBron James and potentially another max-level free agent this summer.
Additionally, the deadline-day trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers this past season netted the Lakers a first-round pick in the 2018 NBA Draft that the team otherwise would not have had because of deals consummated under the previous regime.
While the Lakers are again headed in an upward trajectory, they ultimately will be judged by championships — or lack thereof. But if one thing is clear, Buss is unified with Johnson, Pelinka and head coach Luke Walton in the steps the franchise is taking.