Los Angeles Lakers finally decide to shake things up during their longest postseason drought in franchise history.
Jeanie Buss, Lakers president and co-owner, fired her brother Jim, executive president of operations, along with general manager Mitch Kupchak. Earvin “Magic” Johnson was hired as president of basketball operations Tuesday, Feb. 21, and is looking to appoint the team’s next general manager. Johnson’s first day on the job he traded Lakers guard Lou Williams for Houston Rockets Corey Brewer and a first round pick.
“Today I took a series of actions I believe will return the Lakers to the heights Dr. Jerry Buss demanded and our fans rightly expect,” Jeanie Buss said in her statement Tuesday. “Effective immediately, Earvin Johnson will be in charge of all basketball operations and will report directly to me. Our search for a new general manager to work with Earvin and [head coach] Luke Walton is well underway and we hope to announce a new general manager in short order. Together, Earvin, Luke and our general manager will establish the foundation for the next generation of Los Angeles Lakers greatness.”
There was no reason to wait and the firing of Jim Buss was a long time coming, said Buss. With the team’s recent losing the standard of the purple and gold was tarnishing, says Buss. Last season the team marked their worst record in franchise history at 17-65. The Lakers also haven’t made the postseason since 2012.
“We have the right coach with Luke Walton,” Johnson said.
Coming to the team working with Walton and Buss was something the longtime Laker wanted to do, who now owns two Los Angeles sports franchises in MLB Dodgers and WNBA Sparks along with other businesses. Helping the Lakers get back to its winning ways was important for Johnson, the player who won five championships with the Lakers and another five with the Lakers organization as a part owner before selling his stake with the team in 2010. Now back, the goal for he and Buss is to get the Lakers back to its winning ways.
“This isn’t about going back to Showtime [Lakers]. We’re not trying to turn back the clock,” Jeanie Buss said. “The Lakers have figured out how to win in every era. Certainly the game has evolved and the game has changed.”
Understanding the new collective bargaining agreement, knowing players and having a desire to be a Laker and work under the team’s new mission are key traits Johnson is looking for in the team’s next general manager.
“We just want to win. Win for our players and our fans,” Johnson said. “It’s not a quick fix…but if we do it the right way we can turn it around…right now is about building the winning culture again.”
Lakers currently sit at 14th in the conference with a 19-39 record this season.
By Gino Terrell