First of all… preps to the NBA. We’re still 48 hours from the Trade Deadline and this Deadline has DELIVERED. Serge to the Raptors, the Magic turning their assets into nothing faster than any team I can remember, the low-key Nurkic-for-Plumlee swap between Portland and Denver, BOOGIE BEING FREED, Vivek thinking Buddy Hield is Steph Curry 2.0, Vivek challenging James Dolan for the throne of Most Incompetent Owner (he’ll never catch him but I appreciate the effort), NBA players trolling everyone on twitter with eye emoji tweets and removing their header photos. It’s been absolute chaos for the last week and especially the last 48 hours.
And now this. Jeanie Buss going Cersei Lannister on the Los Angeles Lakers franchise. Mitch Kupchak, who has been with the organization since before any Laker player except Metta World Peace was born, OUT. John Black, the Lakers PR legend of over 25 years, OUT. Her own freakin brother, the immortally incompetent Jim Buss, OUT. After what was surely months upon months of plotting, Jeanie convened her enemies in the Sept of Staples and blew that shit up.
And just like that, Jeanie Buss is the Queen of Los Angeles
And then we have Magic.
Now before we get into the jokes it’s important to note that Magic is a wildly successful, extremely smart guy. We think of Magic as… well… as Magic. The top five all time basketball player. The gregarious, larger than life personality. The… AIDS survivor? The smiling, jovial NBA legend.
But Magic is also a hell of a businessman. He’s the gold standard for retired athletes. He’s worth somewhere in the neighborhood of half a billion dollars. And while he’s certainly benefitted from the aura of being Magic Johnson, that can only take you so far. He’s proven himself to be a smart investor and a diligent worker. He takes a lot of pride in that.
How will that translate to running a basketball team? That remains to be seen. But unlike some former NBA greats given the reigns to a front office, he has experience running businesses, weighing different investment strategies, learning how to delegate work, and entrusting and empowering the people around him to help him make decisions.
But with all that being said… good god this could be a disaster.
Magic Johnson loves everyone. EV-ER-Y-ONE. And while it’s great to see an NBA legend shower praise on the players of today, that doesn’t exactly work well in the front office. If Magic the commentator had his way, Dion Waiters and Rajon Rondo would have max contracts right now. Every addition is great. Every player is great. And while that could very well change as he transitions into a front office roll, there’s not a ton of evidence out there to suggest that Magic is an elite talent evaluator.
Now it does look like Rob Pelinka will be hired as the Lakers GM.
As mentioned above, Magic is smart enough to entrust people to the roles he can’t perform. He was never going to do what Phil Jackson did and hire some patsy at GM to do his bidding. Pelinka will control the team, and Magic will provide his input and guidance.
It’s an interesting hire. Pelinka, a long time power agent with a client list that includes Kob and James Harden, is qualified as hell for the job. He’s known and dealt with other league executives for nearly two decades. He’s spent as much time evaluating talent and negotiating deals as any general manager. He’ll step into that job from day one knowing what the hell he’s doing.
And we’ll see what happens. After 20 years under the Jerry/Jim Buss, Mitch Kupchak, Phil Jackson, Kobe Bryant regime, this is now an entirely new Lakers franchise. Jeanie has officially cleaned house. She has full power, the President, GM, and Coach she wants, and a young roster with the possibility of another top three pick (they only keep it if it’s in the top three) and a boatload of cap room moving forward.