Magic Over in LA as Johnson Abruptly Resigns as Lakers President

Johnson made his surprise announcement 90 minutes before tip-off last night.

Magic Johnson. (Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images)
Magic Johnson. (Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images)
NBAE/Getty Images

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After failing to pull a deal for a superstar to pair with LeBron James out of his hat during the offseason or before the trade deadline, Magic Johnson abruptly resigned as Lakers president prior to LA’s last game of the franchise’s sixth straight losing season.

The former Lakers star, who has been part of the Laker family since he was drafted first overall out of Michigan State in 1979, took over as president of basketball operations a little more than two years ago.

Johnson made his surprise announcement to reporters about 90 minutes before tip-off last night without telling team owner Jeanie Buss or general manager Rob Pelinka first. James, who met with Johnson on Saturday, also likely did not know what was coming.

“I want to go back to having fun,” Johnson said. “I want to go back to being who I was before taking on this job. We’re halfway there with LeBron coming (last summer). I think this summer, with that other star coming in, whoever is going to bring him in, I think this team is really going to be in position to contend for a championship with the growth of the young players.”

By bailing on the team now, Johnson avoids having to be the one to fire head coach Luke Walton and his staff, all of whom expected to be let go in the hours following L.A.’s final game.

Now, with Johnson out, Walton — who has one guaranteed year remaining on his contract and a team option for the 2020-21 season — will still likely be fired, but when that will happen is now anyone’s guess.

If Walton is canned, former Cavs coach Tyronn Lue, Sixers assistant Monty Williams and former Warriors coach Mark Jackson are on the short list of candidates to replace him, according to Yahoo Sports.

Under Johnson’s leadership, the Lakers got rid of young players D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle, both of whom put together career years with the Brooklyn Nets and New Orleans Pelicans this season, respectively.

According to some, 59-year-old Johnson, who has a multitude of other business interests, was never fully committed to his executive role with the Lakers.

Regardless of how incompetent he was or wasn’t,  Johnson leaving the team in the manner he did is a bad look for the franchise and isn’t going to help James recruit top free agents to join him in L.A, this summer.

The Lakers, who have been playing without James in the lineup for weeks, lost 104-101 to Portland following Johnson’ announcement.

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