Almost a month before the 2018-19 NBA season ended, the Los Angeles Lakers were officially eliminated from playoff contention for the sixth consecutive season by D’Angelo Russell and the Brooklyn Nets.
Despite the injuries and Anthony Davis trade rumors, president of basketball operations Magic Johnson was widely expected to fire head coach Luke Walton after three seasons. Instead, Johnson shocking announced his resignation prior to the team’s finale against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Since then, Johnson and the Lakers have stayed relatively quiet until now. With the Lakers set to introduce new head coach Frank Vogel, Johnson appeared on ESPN’s First Take where he discussed numerous topics.
As the Lakers still fired Walton, Johnson acknowledged he was prepared to fire him because he wanted his own head coach, via ESPN’s First Take:
“The straw that broke the camel’s back was I wanted to fire Luke Walton,” Johnson said. “I showed her the things he did well and the things he didn’t do well. I said listen, we got to get a better coach. First day, well let’s think about it. Second day, OK you can fire him. Then the next day, no, we should try to work it out.
However, owner Jeanie Buss’ indecision and chief operating officer Tim Harris’ inclusion in these meetings was the final straw for Johnson:
“So we went back and forth like that, and then she brought Tim Harris into the meeting, some of the guys, and Tim wanted to keep him because he was friends with him. I said, when I looked up, I only really answer to Jeanie Buss,” Johnson continued. “Now I got Tim involved. It’s time for me to go. I got things happening that were being said behind my back. I don’t have the power I thought I had to make decisions. And I told them, when it is not fun for me, when I think I don’t have the decision-making power I thought I had, I got to step aside.”
More than a month after Johnson’s resignation, his latest comments have confirmed some reports. While the 59-year-old thought he only had to answer to Buss, it appears she listens to numerous individuals within the organization such as Harris, special projects executive director Linda Rambis, and senior basketball advisor Kurt Rambis.
Along with providing some details about how the Lakers operate, Johnson admitted his ‘backstabbing’ and ‘whispering’ comments were directed at Pelinka only.