As a franchise, it would appear that the Los Angeles Lakers are embarking on the beginning of a new era. With star guard Kobe Bryant retired, the rebuild is in full swing, and the club has already acquired young talent like D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, and Ivica Zubac. Magic Johnson has been brought in as the new President of Basketball Operations and former agent Rob Pelinka has taken over as General Manager.
The hope is that Johnson’s charisma mixed with Pelinka’s savvy will produce the kind of results needed in order to bring the Lakers back to their rightful place atop the NBA. However, at Pelinka’s introductory press conference, Johnson said that he will step aside if he finds that he cannot do the job (via Lakers Nation reporter Serena Winters):
Magic Johnson: "If we can’t do our job then I’m going to hand the keys back to Jeanie and step aside." pic.twitter.com/zEyf7TSs0C
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) March 10, 2017
While some may see this statement as dangerously close to the infamous guarantee that former Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Jim Buss made, the key difference here is that Johnson doesn’t give a specific timeline for how long it will take to rebuild (coincidentally neither did Pelinka). He also doesn’t specify what goals need to be met in order to prove that he can do the job.
In this case, Johnson’s vague-yet-determined statement is the correct path to travel. It allows him to firmly state his intentions to the fanbase without setting the bar too high, which would only serve to create impatience and weaken leverage in trade discussions with other franchises.
Part of the reason why Johnson was selected to helm the Basketball Operations department for Los Angeles is because of his genuine love for the team and desire to see the Lakers return to greatness.
We shall see if he is up to the challenge.