Onus On Jeanie Buss As Lakers Look To Rebuild Basketball Operations
Magic Johnson stepped down unexpectedly as the Lakers' president of basketball operations last night, and Controlling Owner & CEO Jeanie Buss now has to "figure out what to do" with a franchise that has missed the playoffs six years in a row, according to Dan Woike of the L.A. TIMES. Buss has to weigh whether GM Rob Pelinka, whom she "apparently hired without Johnson’s approval, actually has too much baggage to be 'put' with another president of basketball operations." She has to "figure out" whether coach Luke Walton, who has two years left (one guaranteed) in his contract, "deserves to be paired with another president of basketball operations that didn’t hire him." Johnson’s departure "empowers Buss to start over with a more experienced front office." Maybe it "leads to the team beefing up its infrastructure, adding to its scouting and analytics departments." However, it is also a "reminder of the instability that has plagued the team since the death of Jerry Buss" (L.A. TIMES, 4/10).
STARTS AT THE TOP: ESPN's Zach Lowe said the next president of the Lakers "can't be a Lakers legend." It needs to be someone who "comes in and completely reshapes the culture of how they communicate and how they make decisions, because it is totally broken, and last night is a perfect end to that" ("Get Up," ESPN, 4/10). ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski said the Lakers have the "ability to go out and get almost any top executive in the NBA to come work for them, and it remains the marquee franchise in the league" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 4/9). Wojnarowski said of Buss, "How is she going to proceed here? How is she going to run this organization. They're in better shape if she makes better decisions. She hasn't made really good decisions running this team." Wojnarowski said the Lakers' current state "starts with her." He said, "She's made these decisions, she's not the victim of what Magic Johnson did last night" ("Golic & Wingo," ESPN Radio, 4/10). THE RINGER's Dan Devine writes selling a time-honored brand "isn’t enough, especially after a mostly down and dire decade; the Lakers need smart, strategic planners who can build a roster that fits where the league is going" (THERINGER.com, 4/10). In DC, Ben Standig wrote how Johnson's departure "influences one of the NBA’s flagship franchise’s becomes the league’s top water cooler topic" one day before the '18-19 regular season concludes (NBCSPORTSWASHINGTON.com, 4/9).
TURNING THE PAGE: ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said while everybody "respects Jeanie and genuinely likes her, she has presided over the six worst years in the history of the franchise." It has been a "complete and utter disaster filled with poor management decision after poor management decision." They got LeBron James "by default, they fell into Lebron … (and Magic) gave her a gift by pulling the rip cord." She now has the "opportunity to turn this over, take the family out of it and turn it back into a business” (“Get Up,” ESPN, 4/10). ESPN's Ramona Shelburne said of Buss, "We'll get to find out what kind of owner she is now, because there's no going back to Laker greats, there's not a leaning on what her dad would have done or what her dad had set up" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 4/9).