There is never a dull moment in the world of the Los Angeles Lakers, and this season has proven to be no exception. The team recently shook up their front office by removing Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss from their positions at the head of the team’s basketball operations department.
In their place, the Lakers brought in Magic Johnson as President of Basketball Operations and Rob Pelinka will join him as general manager.
While the writing was on the wall for Buss and Kupchak with the team on pace for another season near the bottom of the league, head coach Luke Walton was still caught off guard by their dismissal. Walton told Sam Amick of USA Today that he was surprised when he learned that Kupchak and Buss were on the way out:
“Honestly, it wasn’t ever clear to me (that Jim and Kupchak would be on their way out) because when I interviewed that was one of the questions I asked, was ‘Are we going to be in this together?’ And they said ‘Yeah,’ so I was under the assumption that (it was) Jimmy and Mitch. So I wasn’t worried about this or that. I was expecting that that was the front office, the whole time I was going to be here, at least for a while, so there wasn’t any uncertainty with me.”
Both Buss and Kupchak were widely praised for the decision to hire Walton as the team’s new head coach after parting ways with Byron Scott. Walton’s relative lack of experience was a concern, but the feeling was that he could breathe new life into the play on the court.
Ironically, the Lakers now hope that replacing Buss and Kupchak themselves will do the same for the front office. Change is never easy, but then again, neither is clawing your way back to the top.