LeBron James is touring Asia on a marketing mission. This is something that happened on the tour.
Maybe that’s just to get the number of Kobe’s agent, Rob Pelinka.
Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:
Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report:
Marc Stein of ESPN:
Sam Amick of USA Today:
Pelinka is still an agent, and Arn Tellem is a former agent who now works for the Pistons. Agents are becoming trendier picks for front-office jobs since Warriors general manager Bob Myers blazed the trail.
If the Lakers are willing to spend big, Neil Olshey — who previously worked in Los Angeles with the Clippers — would be a good choice. A large salary could pull him from Portland.
Kevin Pritchard or Peter Dinwiddie could be fine if the Lakers aren’t willing to make a mega-offer good enough to lure a sitting general manager. Chris Grant might bring baggage.
As Johnson has acknowledged, he needs a general manager more savvy in the nuances of the salary cap. Any of these names would qualify. It’s about finding the very best person for the job, because Johnson needs all the help he can get.
The Kings traded Cousins to the Pelicans, and Magic Johnson’s takeover of the Lakers’ front office ousted Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak.
Sam Amick of USA Today:
I like Ingram, but I value Cousins more. Ingram has shown only flashes of reaching stardom, which, to be fair, is all you can reasonably ask of the 19-year-old. Cousins is a guaranteed star, because he already is one.
From the moment he declared his intention to get the job, it seemed Johnson would run the front office. But the timing — two days before the trade deadline — is a little curious. If Jeanie Buss were set on hiring him, she should have done it weeks ago to let him get systems running before the deadline. If she were unsure, perhaps Jim Buss and Kupchak failing to deal for Cousins was the final straw.
There’s a reasonable case the Lakers were right to hold Ingram over Cousins. Look what Sacramento got for Cousins. NBA teams clearly didn’t think so highly of him.
But if Jim Buss were willing to trade Ingram for Cousins and failed to get the trigger pulled, that speaks to larger issues in process. And that, more than anything, explained why Jim Buss needed to go.
The Lakers might not have shook up their front office today for the right reasons, but it can still work out for them.
Magic Johnson essentially publicly anointed himself in charge of the Lakers’ front office.
Now, the Lakers are actually giving him the job.
Los Angeles Lakers Governor Jeanie Buss announced today that the team has named Earvin “Magic” Johnson as President of Basketball Operations. In addition, General Manager Mitch Kupchak has been relieved of his duties, effective immediately. Furthermore, Jim Buss will no longer hold his role as Lakers Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations.
“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. “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 Coach Luke Walton is well underway and we hope to announce a new General Manager in short order. Together, Earvin, Luke and our new General Manager will establish the foundation for the next generation of Los Angeles Lakers greatness.”
“It’s a dream come true to return to the Lakers as President of Basketball Operations working closely with Jeanie Buss and the Buss family,” said Earvin “Magic” Johnson. “Since 1979, I’ve been a part of the Laker Nation and I’m passionate about this organization. I will do everything I can to build a winning culture on and off the court. We have a great coach in Luke Walton and good young players. We will work tirelessly to return our Los Angeles Lakers to NBA champions.”
Jeanie Buss added, “I took these actions today to achieve one goal: 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.”
Regarding Mitch Kupchak, Jeanie Buss stated, “We are grateful for the many contributions Mitch has made to the Lakers over the years and we wish him all the best.”
With regard to fellow owner and brother, Jim Buss, Ms. Buss said, “Jim loves the Lakers. Although he will no longer be responsible for basketball personnel decisions, he is an owner of this team and we share the same goal: returning the Lakers to the level of greatness our father demanded. Our fans deserve no less.”
In addition to the changes made within the basketball department, the Lakers also announced they have parted ways with John Black who had been the Lakers Vice President of Public Relations. Chief Operating Officer Tim Harris will immediately begin a search for a replacement. Jeanie Buss added, “We thank John for his many years of service.”
This closes an ugly chapter in which Jeannie Buss named Johnson as an advisor, and then he went about publicly trashing Jim Buss and Kupchack while evaluating them for her and clamoring for their front-office power.
Now, the real work begins. And that doesn’t mean calling Kobe Bryant.
But the Lakers also face significant hurdles back to the top.
They lose their 2017 and 2019 first-round picks if their 2017 first-round pick doesn’t land in the top three. The Lakers have the NBA’s third-worst record. In the past, Johnson has expressed an affinity for tanking.
These conditions are the effects of Jim Buss’ misguided pledge to jolt the Lakers back to contending. Their shortsighted moves and even bigger dreams backfired so spectacularly, they backed into several high draft picks — and at least chose well. While Kupchak’s overall tenure was positive, his approach had grown stale.
The Lakers needed a change in management. I’m just not convinced Johnson was the solution.
Would they have hired him if he didn’t play for them? Probably not. Does his playing experience with the Lakers specifically, as opposed to any team, better prepare him for this job? Probably not.
But even if Johnson were hired for the wrong reasons, he can still succeed.
He thrived in business after retirement by putting the right people around him, and he can do that here. Johnson obviously knows basketball, but managing a roster and all the salary-cap complexities is a different animal. He needs staff, including a general manager, more familiar with that.
Johnson will be the franchise’s new smiling face. But, for this to truly work, Johnson will have to build a winner the old-fashioned way: With savvy drafting, trading and signing.
As the trade deadline approaches, it seems that hasn’t changed.
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:
The teams that talked to the Chicago Bulls today were told, “Just about everybody on our roster is available, but Jimmy Butler is not.”
The Bulls are not obliged to stand by that, and there’s no indication they’ve assured Butler anything. If they’re offered a package more valuable than Butler, they’ll trade him.
But that’s a lot of value.
Butler is playing like a superstar, 27 and locked up for two more seasons after this one. Not many teams have the assets to trade for someone like that.
Plus, Chicago could use the designated-veteran-player rule to re-sign him. No other team would hold that advantage if it trades for him.
So, Butler is probably valued more by the Bulls than any other team. But if another team with significant assets makes a suitable offer, I doubt Butler remains unavailable.