Despite the fact that Johnson resigned as the Lakers’ president of basketball operations more than two months ago, prior to the end of the 2018-19 regular season, the Lakers’ owner hadn’t spoken publicly regarding the surprising move until prior to the NBA‘s 2018-19 Awards Show.
According to Buss, she was surprised by Johnson’s exit — which came at a time when there was a lot of turmoil within the organization, including whether or not Luke Walton would be retained as head coach. The Lakers and Walton agreed to part ways following the conclusion of the regular season, following Magic’s departure from the front office.
Via Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN:
“It was a surprise when Magic turned in his resignation,” Buss later added when asked about the perception that the Lakers have been surrounded by turmoil for most of the offseason. “I didn’t see that coming. But everything else has been pretty much as any organization moves forward and changes going into a new season. So as much as has been speculated as to what the Lakers are doing, to me, we are in a really good place and we are following our path, and our plan, going into the next season.”
Along with commenting on Magic’s exit, Buss also addressed Johnson’s comments regarding how Rob Pelinka “backstabbed” him. Pelinka now serves as the Lakers’ general manager.
“I can’t really anticipate what he thinks,” said Buss, who made it clear that her relationship with Johnson remains close. “He has to answer those questions. He’s always full of surprises. Like as surprising as it was, it kind of reminded me of back in 1981 when he asked to be traded after winning a championship with the Lakers because he wasn’t happy with the way the offense had changed. And that led us to getting Pat Riley as our head coach.
“I’ve always had confidence in Rob,” Buss said. “Whatever the speculation that’s out there, we don’t need the outside media to validate the things that we do. I’m very happy, I think we are on the right path, but there’s still more work to do.”
Chaos and drama aside, one thing is for certain — the Lakers need to start winning. With the acquisition of a top-five player in Davis and the aging process of the 34-year-old LeBron James, the time to win is now.
With the Golden State Warriors facing an uncertain, immediate, future following the serious injuries to Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson during the 2019 NBA Finals, the Lakers shouldn’t just aim to break their playoff drought at six seasons — they need to aim to win a championship in 2020.