Magic, Lakers said to be getting right to work

Magic Johnson is now officially the man running the Lakers' basketball side.
Sam Amico
Sam Amico

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Magic Johnson isn’t wasting any time in his new job as the man in charge of the Lakers. At least, not according to two opposing team executives, who told Amico Hoops that Johnson has already called proposing trades.

Johnson officially took over the basketball operations Tuesday, when team governor Jeanie Buss announced longtime general manager Mitch Kupchak and executive VP of basketball ops Jim Buss were fired.

The trading deadline is Thursday at 3 p.m. EST.

“Today I took a series of actions I believe will return the Lakers to the heights Dr. Jerry Buss demanded and our fans rightly expect,” Jeanie Buss said in a statement posted on the Lakers’ website. “Effective immediately, Earvin Johnson will be in charge of all basketball operations and will report directly to me. Our search for a new General Manager to work with Earvin and Coach Luke Walton is well underway and we hope to announce a new General Manager in short order.”

Per the Los Angels Daily News, Jim Buss will continue to hold an ownership position with the Lakers, but sources told Amico Hoops he will no longer have a say in basketball matters.

Johnson’s official title is president of basketball operations.

Yahoo Sports reported player agent and former Michigan guard Rob Pelinka has the inside track on being named the new GM. Others said to be in the running include current Portland GM Neil Olshey and former Cavs GM Chris Grant.

Johnson is a Hall-of-Famer as a player after leading the Lakers to five championships in the 1980s. He retired in 1992 after being diagnosed with the virus that leads to AIDS. He has had few known complications resulting from the virus.

“Since 1979, I’ve been a part of the Laker Nation and I’m passionate about this organization.” Johnson said. “I will do everything I can to build a winning culture on and off the court.”

Kupchak played for the Lakers and spent 30 years in the front office. Opposing GMs told Amico Hoops “there was a sense he had gotten complacent” in simply hoping the Lakers could rebuild through free agency.

“Those days are over — no one looks at the Lakers like that right now,” one exec told Amico Hoops. “Mitch needed to adapt and didn’t.”

Jeanie Buss also announced the dismissal of longtime Lakers public relations head John Black. The search for his replacement will begin immediately, the team said in a release.

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