Magic Johnson may not be the Los Angeles Lakers’ President of Basketball Operations, but apparently he will still be apart of LA’s recruiting process this summer.
Earlier this month, Magic Johnson stepped down as the team’s President of Basketball Operations. He had an impromptu press conference before the Lakers’ final regular season game against the Portland Trail Blazers. Johnson shocked everyone with his decision, especially since he didn’t tell anyone from within the organization about it — not even team owner Jeanie Buss.
According to Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times, the Lakers are not looking for Johnson’s replacement, with Magic still expected to help the Purple and Gold in their free agency recruitment.
The first week of the search followed chaotic week for the franchise. On April 9, Magic Johnson resigned as the Lakers’ president of basketball operations, telling reporters before telling Buss or any other member of the organization. Buss has no plans to hire someone to replace Johnson, who is still expected to be part of the Lakers’ free-agent recruiting this summer.
It seems Buss and the Lakers aren’t in a rush to find a replacement for Magic Johnson, meaning current General Manager Rob Pelinka will likely perform double duty. He’s already overseeing the franchise’s search for its next head coach and will continue to be included in the majority of the team’s internal decisions.
The Lakers will need to find a way to sort things out before June. A lot of people from around the league are already seeing their current situation as a mess, and it could affect their free agency recruitment if they don’t resolve their issues as soon as possible.
The Los Angeles Lakers intentionally filled their roster with one-year contracts to maintain their salary cap flexibility for the summer of 2019 where several NBA superstars like Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, DeMarcus Cousins, and DeAndre Jordan are expected to become unrestricted free agents.
The Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Durant could be at the top of that list.
I detailed the reasons why in my column at Basketball Society Online which you can read here.
Durant signed a two-year, $61.5 million contract with the Warriors and has the option to opt out ahead of the 2019-20 season, per Spotrac.
If Durant were to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers next offseason, it would leave Kevin Durant and LeBron James with a minimum of two years to play together.
Another option that the Lakers could take into consideration is to try to acquire New Orleans Pelicans forward, Anthony Davis via trade.
With the Pelicans hiring of David Griffin there could be hope for hoops fans that something could happen.
In order for that to happen, the Pelicans would still need to agree to agree to a trade.
That didn’t go so well at the NBA’s trading deadline on February 7th.
For those keeping score at home: The Denver Nuggets and the New York Knicks did in fact inquire about Davis between January and February.
With the NBA Draft coming up, there could be more suitors looking to make a move.
Adding a max free agent and keeping the young core is still an option for the Lakers, also.
Keep in mind: Before the rash of injuries to LeBron James, Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, the Lakers were only two games out of first place and on pace to win 50 or more wins this season.
Some would argue that adding any mix of notable free agents like Durant or Kawhi Leonard in a mix with LeBron James and a more experienced, blossoming young core could create a legitimate championship contender, which I discussed here.
So will KD join the Lakers?
Some chains of events earlier this season could lead one to believe that the Durant to LA rumors have legs.
Back in the fall, NBA veteran Jarrett Jack tweeted about Durant & Davis joining the Lakers and it being a done deal.
Many made a spectacle when Durant’s mother told TMZ that she loved Magic Johnson and LeBron James. She did follow that up with stating: “My son has been in the NBA now for 11 years, so he’s wise enough to make the decision that’s best for him. I trust that.”
Earlier in the season, it was reported that the beef between Durant and Warriors teammate, Draymond Green had a lot to do with KD’s pending free agency this summer.
It is believed by some that that is why Durant quickly made the “toxic” comments to Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher about the Lakers and LeBron James.
Bucher believes that the New York Knicks are a top contender for Durant if he leaves the Golden State Warriors.
“I would expect that he goes to New York for a variety of reasons.” Bucher told me on the Scoop B Radio Podcast.
Make sure to check out my assessment of the Lakers’ front office, coaching and more here.