After an incredibly difficult season, Magic Johnson has resigned from his role as President of Basketball Operations for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Nothing has gone according to plan for the Lakers this season. Injuries ravaged the roster. The young players all stagnated. The veteran supporting cast didn’t work. The effort to trade for Anthony Davis imploded so dramatically that any semblance of team chemistry may be impossible to recover with this group of players. A year of LeBron James’ enduring prime was wasted without even a playoff appearance to show for all the struggles.
And now, we may be witnessing the death of Lakers’ exceptionalism. On Tuesday night, Johnson announced in a pregame press conference that he was resigning his position as President of Basketball Operations for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Incredibly, Johnson chose to announce the news himself without telling owner Jeannie Buss beforehand. During his conversation with reporters, he said, “Somebody’s going to have to tell my boss because I knew I couldn’t be face-to-face and tell her. … I couldn’t stand to tell her,” per Bill Oram of The Athletic.
Johnson was in the position for just over two years and, while he helped land LeBron James, it’s hard to say he’s leaving the organization better off than he found it. Rumors about head coach Luke Walton’s future have been swirling for weeks, putting him on the same uncertain footing as many of the young players who found themselves in trade rumors as part of reported packages for Davis. Barring an unlikely win in the NBA Draft Lottery (currently, their odds are 2 percent, per Tankathon.com) it’s hard to imagine that a summer trade for Davis is happening. The plan then would have to be chasing Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant (both rumored to be headed to New York) or trying to lure Jimmy Butler or Kawhi Leonard away from great situations in the Eastern Conference to join LeBron.
It seems more than plausible the Lakers enter next season with essentially the same core they have right now, a group that will have a lot of issues, both emotional and functional, to work through before even making the playoffs would be realistic. Magic Johnson was supposed to make the Lakers fun again. Two years later it’s clear no one has been enjoying themselves.