* * *
The Lakers have swept out the front office and given Magic Johnson full control of basketball operations. A splashy move, yes, but a good move? And why now?
* * *
Steve Aschburner: Why not now? The Lakers are already working toward 2017-18. What’s left of this season doesn’t matter except for how it sets up next season and those beyond. A lot of us media folks have had fun noting Magic Johnson’s overly generous tweets that suggest shaky talent evaluation -- he saw Brandon Knight as worthy of the overall No. 1 pick and called Michael Carter-Williams the next Jason Kidd, to cite just two -- but I’m comfortable assuming he’ll be more discerning in the private business of enhancing Los Angeles’ roster. He, soon-to-be GM Rob Pelinka and coach Luke Walton -- with enough sharp people around them -- can do this. If not, Magic will end up more Elgin Baylor than Jerry West as Lakers icon-turned-team executive.
Fran Blinebury: It’s fun, exciting and brings warm flashback feelings from the Showtime days. But that’s it for now. I understand the timing because it gives Magic and Jeanie Buss and soon-to-be GM hire Rob Pelinka time to evaluate the roster in what’s left of the season and formulate a plan going forward to the draft and free agency. They made their first splash ahead of the trade deadline by reportedly dealing Lou Williams to Houston for a 2017 first-round Draft pick. That’s a start, but it’s way to early to declare this a success until we see what moves are made over the next six months and longer. The Lakers are not a quick fix, even for somebody named Magic.
Shaun Powell: A good move if he surrounds himself with smart people who know the salary cap and others who are dogged on the college scouting road. Magic probably won't delve too deep in either of those areas. Also, an analytics guru would help. A competent "Team Magic" front office would allow for Magic to fill in the gaps and put the Lakers back on track.
John Schuhmann: The timing is weird, because there's no decision-making team in place for the decisions that need to be made in the next two days. If you don't want Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak running the team anymore, you have to make the change whenever you come to that realization, but it would have been better to have done that earlier in the season. Obviously, time will tell whether or not this was a change for the better. From watching Johnson on TV and reading his opinions on twitter, I'm not too optimistic. And saying he doesn't need to learn is not a good sign either. No matter where we are in our lives and careers, we all need to keep learning every day, and hopefully Johnson eventually realizes that he needs to surround himself with people that will help him do that. Rob Pelinka (and the contact list that comes with him) should help, but additional talent evaluators and an analytics team need to follow. I want to see Johnson at the Sloan Conference next week.
Sekou Smith: Splashy, good and absolutely needed. The Lakers' brand has taken a beating recently and this was a much-needed face-lift and the change in direction I think we all knew was needed and inevitable. Magic has made his post-playing fortune by surrounding himself with the best of the best in business. There's no reason to believe he'll deviate from that successful formula in taking over the Lakers. He already has a coach in place and now must start crafting the right culture for the organization while also making shrewd personnel moves to put the Lakers back on solid ground.
Ian Thomsen:I can't help but think Mitch Kupchak will be missed. You can ask any rookie team president or GM and they will tell you it takes years to learn those jobs. Now was as good of a time as any for the Lakers to commit to Magic but -- for all of his experience and wisdom -- he will be successful only if he works extremely hard at this new career, which is unlike anything he has attempted before. If he is committed to surmounting the steep learning curve ahead of him, then he will be terrific.
Lang Whitaker: We like history around these parts, yes? Because I really like it when teams embrace their past, and the Los Angeles Lakers having Magic Johnson around is better than the Lakers not having him around. I don’t know how he’ll be as a GM, but we know from his business success that he has a stellar work ethic and has the ability to surround himself with the right people. And to me the hiring of Rob Pelinka is an interesting first step in that direction.
Scott Howard-Cooper: I think the “why now” is especially interesting. Everything points to Jeannie Buss being upset at something in particular leading up to the trade deadline, probably the Lakers being unable to land DeMarcus Cousins. Something triggered the big decisions on the spot, days before the deadline, when she was probably planning to wait until the first days of the offseason. As for good move/bad move, it’s a mix. Jim Buss, sure. But Mitch Kupchak has shown he can do quality work in the front office. He just got in a situation the last several years where he had to report yo Jim.