The Los Angeles Lakers earlier this week shook things up in the front office with the announcement that Magic Johnson would become the president of basketball operations along with relieving the duties of longtime general manager Mitch Kupchak.
In light of that, the Lakers went through their first practice following these moves on Wednesday afternoon. According to Orange County Register’s Mark Medina, head coach Luke Walton voiced a mixed bag of feelings about the major changes laid forth in the front office by the franchise.
“Everything happened so fast,” Walton said. “The initial thought is why do it right before the trade deadline, but Magic came in and we got to work right away. … It was a strange feeling all day, honestly.”
It had been just a few weeks since Johnson was initially brought on board in an advisory role by team president and co-owner Jeanie Buss. All of this had quickly transitioned to the major move on Tuesday morning that put the Hall of Famer in a prominent position in the Lakers’ decision-making process regarding roster personnel.
With that in mind, Walton did indicate that the brief meeting that Johnson had with the team prior to Wednesday’s practice was reassuring for the players and coaching in terms of the direction of the organization moving forward into the season half of the season and beyond.
“Magic had a great message to the people and guys still working here,” Walton said. “We all have jobs to do. No one is being judged on what we did before. It’s all about right now.”
“I’m not going to say this is what the franchise needs, but (Magic’s) fun to work with,” Walton said. “I really enjoyed the short amount of time we spent bouncing ideas off of each other. We enjoy having him around. If I’m sitting in a room with Magic and he’s selling me on something, most times I’m buying it.”
Although there isn’t any true way of projecting ahead to what will be expected under Johnson, he already has put his first few touches on the team with the expected hiring of longtime agent Rob Pelinka as the next general manager and trade of veteran guard Lou Williams to the Houston Rockets.
The future of the franchise is now in Johnson’s hands, and there will likely more change that lies ahead for Los Angeles.
Bob Garcia IV
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