The Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday morning announced the surprising decision that Earvin “Magic” Johnson will immediately replace Jim Buss as the president of basketball operations and longtime general manager Mitch Kupchak will be relieved of his duties.
“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.”
Kupchak has held the position as general manager since 2000 after Jerry West left the organization. Meanwhile, Buss was promoted to vice president of basketball operations in 2005 and took up a more prominent role after his father, Jerry Buss, passed away in 2013.
This move just over a month after team president and co-owner Jeanie Buss met with Johnson to discuss the state of the franchise and future outlook. Two weeks after their initial meeting the Hall of Famer was named a consultant for the Lakers.
Johnson had previously held numerous titles with Los Angeles, which includes being named honorary vice president last June. He had also a minor stake in the team, which he decided to sell Dr. Patrick Soon Shiong in 2011.
“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.”
The decision to part ways with Buss may have been directly correlated to the timeline that he put forth prior to the 2014-15 season that he would step down following this year if the team was not competing in the Western Conference Finals. Los Angeles is now heading toward their fourth straight losing campaign without a playoff appearance, which would mark the longest drought in team history.
“Jim loves the Lakers,” Buss said. “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.”
The Lakers are also parting ways with John Black, who has been the longtime vice president of public relations. With these major moves in the front office made, expect plenty more change on the horizon.
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Bob Garcia IV
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