Magic Johnson just got a little bit more powerful.
So much for that whole role as Lakers “adviser.” On Tuesday (Feb. 21), the Laker legend, who rejoined the club in an advisory capacity earlier this month, effectively became one of the franchise’s most powerful decision-makers, taking over as President of Basketball Operations. Meanwhile, longtime general manager Mitch Kupchak was relieved of his role, and Jim Buss relinquished his spot as the club’s Executive VP of Basketball Operations.
“We have really good, young talent,” Johnson said in a statement Tuesday. “We have to develop that young talent. I’m looking forward to getting out on the court with them.”
Johnson will report directly to Jeanie Buss, the Lakers’ governor. The club will begin a search for the next general manager immediately.
“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. “Together, Earvin, (Lakers coach) Luke (Walton) and our new General Manager will establish the foundation for the next generation of Los Angeles Lakers greatness.”
The Lakers were once the gold standard for the NBA, and the club won four NBA titles, advanced to six NBA Finals and missed the playoffs just once between 2000-2010. But the team has fallen on hard times since then, finishing each of the last three seasons with a losing record. At 19-39 this season, the Lakers seem headed for a fourth straight losing campaign, with few signs that the club has a truly set nucleus for the future.
Buss hopes a new brain trust can help collect those issues, with Magic spearheading the effort and setting the agenda for the franchise.
“I took these actions today to achieve one goal,” she said. “Everyone associated with the Lakers will now be pulling in the same direction, the direction established by Earvin and myself. We are determined to get back to competing to win NBA championships again.”
ESPN, which had Johnson on its NBA Countdown program as a studio analyst, thanked him in a statement.
“We’re grateful for the terrific contributions Magic has made to our NBA coverage and we wish him the best,” the statement read. “We look forward to documenting the next step in Magic’s unprecedented basketball journey.”