Magic Johnson named Lakers' president of basketball operations
Hall of Famer Magic Johnson has been named the Lakers' president of basketball operations, the team announced on Tuesday.
As part of the front office reshuffling, general manager Mitch Kupchak has been relieved of his duties, and Jim Buss will no longer serve as executive vice president of basketball operations. The Lakers also parted ways with John Black, who had been the team's vice president of public relations for more than 25 years.
"I'm coming back to an organization that I love," Johnson said in an appearance on Spectrum Sports Net shortly after the announcement.
Johnson was hired as an adviser to the franchise earlier this month. Shortly thereafter, he expressed a desire to "call the shots" for the team. Johnson also said in an appearance on ESPN's First Take that should he get the job, his first call would be to retired Lakers star Kobe Bryant.
Johnson said he is already looking for a general manager to work under him. Rob Pelinka has emerged as the favorite to be hired as the team's new general manager, according to Bleacher Report's Kevin Ding.
Johnson played 13 seasons for the Lakers and is considered by many to be the best player in franchise history. He is a part of multiple successful business endeavors and owns a small portion of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
"The timing is right," Johnson said. "It was time to put my businesses aside and focus on the Lakers business."
Kupchak had been in charge of personnel decisions since 2000. He was widely praised for orchestrating the Pau Gasol trade, but he faced criticism for signing Bryant to a two-year deal worth more than $48 million while Bryant was out with a torn Achilles tendon. The Lakers have held meetings with marquee free agents in recent seasons but have been unable to land any big names.
According to USA Today's Sam Amick, Kupchak and Buss pushed hard to acquire DeMarcus Cousins from the Kings in an effort to save their jobs. Cousins ultimately got traded to the Pelicans.
The Lakers have endured three straight losing seasons, including a franchise-worst 17–65 record last season. Los Angeles is currently 19–39, the third-worst record in the NBA.
Johnson steps into his new role with Thursday's trade deadline looming. Kupchak said recently that the Lakers were "active" in the trade market, with Louis Williams and Nick Young the most likely candidates to be moved.