Magic Johnson is free to tweet as he may, but the remaining members of Lakers brass have gone silent.
Team owner Jeanie Buss, GM Rob Pelinka and coach Luke Walton — the latter two now expected to keep their jobs — dodged the media during procedural exit interviews Wednesday amid Johnson’s shocking decision to step down as club president the night before.
LeBron James also didn’t face reporters and reportedly was stunned upon hearing the news, which Johnson oddly broke himself only days after meeting with The King, according to ESPN. LeBron spent Day 1 of his rare playoff-less offseasons partying in LA with teammates in celebration of Lonzo Ball launching his new app.
Questions remain, though it seems Johnson’s abandonment concerned more than his role blocking him from drooling over non-Lakers stars on social media.
At the top of the list may have been a power struggle with Buss. ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith reported Johnson wanted both Walton and Pelinka gone following a failed 37-45 season filled with expectations, though his stated “sister” Buss, whom he’s known for a long time, overruled.
Johnson hinted as much during his laughter- and tears-filled meeting with the media Tuesday night. He didn’t exactly offering a ringing endorsement for Pelinka, while saying in reference to Walton, “I would have to affect somebody’s livelihood and their life.”
Pelinka, whom Johnson hired in 2017, is now expected to be given more discretion as GM, according to ESPN.
And Walton’s long-rumored Lakers divorce seems to be on hold for now, reports the same outlet.
It was widely speculated Walton would get the ax after Year 3 at the helm, and being reprimanded by Johnson during a well-publicized early-season meeting.
But with Johnson gone, Walton and Pelinka seem to be safe, another chance to return LeBron and the Lakers back to the postseason following a six-year hiatus.
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