Since resigning from his position, former Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson has been very public about what went wrong.
Despite Johnson’s love for owner Jeanie Buss, there may have been some disconnect between the two dating back to the 2018-19 NBA trade deadline.
In the days leading up to the Feb. 7 deadline, it became clear the Lakers were willing to offer anyone not named LeBron James to the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for Anthony Davis. In fact, their final offer reportedly included six players, draft picks, and salary cap relief.
Even more interesting, it is now coming out that Buss didn’t even know about this blockbuster offer at the time. She was sure Johnson was going to keep some of the young core especially Lonzo Ball, according to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report:
“According to someone familiar with the situation, the disconnect stems back to the trade deadline. Johnson apparently offered the New Orleans Pelicans more in a trade for All-Star forward Anthony Davis (notably Lonzo Ball) than had been communicated with Buss.”
Johnson went far beyond this and offered pretty much everyone that was positively impactful on the roster including Kentavious Caldwell-Pope:
“The Lakers had agreed to send their entire young core of Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and Ivica Zubac to the Pelicans, as well as veteran guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the people said.”
If all of this is true and Johnson really didn’t communicate the truth with Buss, then perhaps it’s for the best that he’s gone. It became clear after his resignation that making basketball decisions like these ones were destroying Johnson on the inside.
And if Johnson simply didn’t have the heart to do those things, then he has no reason to stay within the Lakers organization as a prominent decision-maker. The final deal that Johnson offered was also very lopsided in favor of the Pelicans, something that could’ve come back to haunt the Lakers in a very real way.
Johnson ended up trading Ivica Zubac for an ice cold Mike Muscala for the final two months of the 2018-19 NBA season.
The more information that comes out about Johnson’s tenure with the Lakers, the more apparent it is that he wasn’t cut out for the job and the Lakers came out as the big winners.