After the long Memorial Day Weekend, ESPN dropped a bomb of an article exposing some behind the scenes workings of the Los Angeles Lakers’ organization. Citing unnamed sources from last season’s coaching staff, Baxter Holmes chronicled just what exactly went awry last season. From the front office to the coaching staff, there was an incredible level of disconnect not seen among professional sports organizations.
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In the summer of 2018, Magic Johnson and the Lakers decided to buck conventional wisdom and build a different team around new superstar LeBron James. Rather than opting to surround the generational playmaking talent with shooters, a recipe that has been proven successful, Johnson opted to fill out the roster with mercurial playmakers.
ESPN – “We all had the same reaction that the basketball world did, like what the f— are we doing?” one Lakers coaching staff member told ESPN. “Not only are we not getting shooting, but we’re also getting every basket case left on the market.”
More than just the coaching staff being taken aback by Johnson’s decisions, his fellow front office staffers were baffled as well.
“We were all confused,” a front office staffer said. “All of it made no sense.”
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Holmes goes on to further paint a picture of an organization in disarray. With Johnson and Pelinka making decisions on their own without consulting the numerous staff members whose job it is to help make informed decisions on which players to target.
ESPN – “But coaching staffers and others in basketball operations said Pelinka and Johnson made the signings while seeking little to no consultation from them, even forgoing gathering intel from staffers who had previously worked with some of the players they had signed. Some employees learned of the signings through media reports. A Lakers spokesperson said Pelinka and Johnson consulted with everyone in the front office but that decisions ultimately rested with them.”
It seems that while Magic and Rob would meet with these employees, they wouldn’t put much stock into anything they were saying as the duo had more than likely already made up their mind as far as what they wanted to do.
Examples like these go to show how despite the pair’s extensive experience in basketball, Johnson as a player and Pelinka an agent, didn’t make up for the pair’s lack of front office experience. Looking back, it was clear from the jump that the two were in a bit over their heads.