Changes may be on the horizon for the Los Angeles Lakers organization. Team president Jeanie Buss recently shook things up in Los Angeles by bringing in Magic Johnson in an advisory role, fueling speculation about the future of general manager Mitch Kupchak and vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss.
Johnson hasn’t wasted any time in getting to work in his new role within the Lakers organization. He’s already spoken with key members of the Lakers brass as well as head coach Luke Walton and point guard D’Angelo Russell.
Along with reaching out to Kupchak, Buss, Walton, and Russell, it appears Johnson has also talked to agents and executives around the league about the way Kupchak and company have gone about their business in NBA free agency.
Apparently, Magic isn’t getting the most positive feedback when it comes to Kupchak’s style in pursuing free agents, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne:
According to sources close to the situation, Magic has already heard from agents and executives from other teams that Kupchak’s deliberate style can be frustrating to deal with and has probably cost the Lakers in free agency in recent years, missing out on a list of names that includes Isaiah Thomas, Kent Bazemore, Kyle Lowry, Ed Davis, Trevor Ariza, Pau Gasol and Eric Gordon.
With the Lakers being non-existent in free agency over the past few years while trying to rebuild the franchise, hearing that Kupchak may be partly to blame is not a good sign regarding his future with the team.
Although the Lakers have drafted extremely well over the last three years, the team has been unable to draw any interest from top-tier free agents. The Lakers front office had meetings with LaMarcus Aldridge and Carmelo Anthony in the two years prior to last summer, but couldn’t even get a seat at the table with stars Kevin Durant, Hassan Whiteside or DeMar DeRozan last July.
As if being shunned by the best players available wasn’t bad enough, second-tier free agents such as Chandler Parsons, Kent Bazemore, and Evan Turner didn’t want anything to do with the Lakers, either. Bazemore, who was passed up on by Los Angeles back in 2014, didn’t take the four-year, $72 million offer from Lakers because he felt the team didn’t believe in him the first time around.
Needless to say, things don’t look all that promising for Kupchak as Johnson continues to dig deeper into why the team hasn’t been able to improve through free agency. It remains uncertain as to what direction the team will go once the 2016-17 NBA season is over, but subtle hints may continue to be dropped moving forward.