Johnson stated if the Lakers did not have two All-Star players in his first two full seasons with them, he’d resign.
At the time, people thought that this was an absolutely insane thing to do. But then, Johnson started things off by signing LeBron James to a four-year deal in his second offseason. Everyone was unsure who the second All-Star player was until Anthony Davis requested a trade from the New Orleans Pelicans in Jan. 2019 and put the Lakers at the top of his list.
Of course, Johnson couldn’t get it done before the 2019 NBA trade deadline and he went ahead and resigned at the end of the 2018-19 NBA season. However, if the trade had gone through in February, Johnson believes he’d still be with the Lakers, via “Undisputed” with Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe:
“I would still be there and then I could have the coaches I wanted. I’d still be there, of course … Everything would’ve fallen into place. You know Kawhi… knowing him and knowing the uncle, we had some great conversations too. We would’ve had just a good a shot as we had before, but I think even better with me in that position. I’m not saying he would’ve came to the Lakers, but I’m saying I think we would’ve had a better shot at him.”
It obviously came as a surprise to many when Johnson resigned because although he didn’t get his two All-Star players, the common feeling around the NBA was that Davis would end up a Laker. Not only that, Johnson believes the Lakers would have had a better shot at Kawhi Leonard if he was still around.
NBA fans and players will never truly know the answer to these questions, but it seems as though everyone got what they wanted out of Johnson’s resignation.
Johnson got to be the fun-loving NBA personality he simply couldn’t be as the president of basketball operations, the Lakers got to move on with a much more focused front office, Davis got his request fulfilled, and Leonard ended up with the team and teammate he really wanted from the start.
It’s likely that Johnson will continue to talk about his time with the Lakers and what the team does in the present without him.
With all this being said, the Lakers have a great roster that has two seasons with a real shot at winning it all.