Since Magic Johnson resigned from the Los Angeles Lakers to conclude the 2018-19 NBA season, new details have emerged about his 2.5 seasons.
As Johnson identified general manager Rob Pelinka as the individual who was ‘backstabbing’ and ‘whispering’ behind his back, a recent ESPN story detailed how the former reportedly intimidated and bullied staffers.
With the 59-year-old denying these allegations, he was asked if there is anything he would change during his time with the Lakers.
While it is no secret Johnson wanted to fire former head coach Luke Walton, Johnson would have hired his own general manager as well, via SportsCenter:
“I would’ve hired my own people from the beginning. The one thing I didn’t get to do is hire everybody that I wanted. Rob and I got put together. I inherited Luke Walton, so I didn’t get to hire my own people… then you can judge me.”
Johnson previously shared owner Jeanie Buss’ indecision to fire Walton was the final straw that led to his sudden resignation, 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.
When Johnson became the president of basketball operations during the 2016-17 NBA season, Walton was in his first season and Pelinka was hired shortly after. As Johnson had the final say in all basketball-related decisions, it is fair that he wanted to be judged on the people he personally hired.
As Johnson said he will not speak again until July, the hope is the Lakers can somehow move forward. In perhaps the most important offseason in team history, the major concern is not landing a second All-Star player.
Regardless of the team’s options with the No. 4 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft and a max-contract slot, some players do value stability within the entire organization. With a little over a month before the offseason begins, Pelinka and head coach Frank Vogel have been the only people to speak.
As Vogel carried himself extremely well during his press conference, it will be interesting to see if the reputations of Pelinka and others impact their ability to improve the roster around LeBron James for the 2019-20 season.