The Los Angeles Lakers have hired Magic Johnson as an adviser to Jeanie Buss on both basketball and business matters, the team announced Thursday. This comes less than a year after the Lakers severed their official relationship with Johnson, removing his honorary title of vice president after he tweeted a bunch of statements about fantasy-land free-agent targets like Kevin Durant and LeBron James, which were harmless but probably qualified as tampering.
From the Lakers' press release:
"We are thrilled and honored to add Magic's expertise and abilities, and I look forward to working alongside him." said Lakers Governor Jeanie Buss.
"Magic Johnson is one of the NBA's greatest players and it is terrific to see him returning to the Lakers," said NBA commissioner Adam Silver. "He is a truly special person and a natural leader with a relentless passion for basketball and profound knowledge of the game."
"Everyone knows my love for the Lakers," said Johnson. "Over the years, I have considered other management opportunities, however my devotion to the game and Los Angeles make the Lakers my first and only choice. I will do everything in my power to help return the Lakers to their rightful place among the elite teams of the NBA."
Johnson's duties will include, but not be limited to, advising ownership on all business and basketball matters, collaborating with coaches, evaluating and mentoring players, assessing future franchise needs, and helping ownership to determine the best path for growth and success. Johnson will spend time at Lakers offices in El Segundo and will report directly to Jeanie Buss.
Johnson never stopped being able to communicate with Buss about the direction of the team, and he never stopped being personally invested in the Lakers' future. He has been an ambassador for the franchise for almost four decades now, and it was probably only a matter of time before his name was back on the staff directory.
The obvious question here is how this affects Lakers management going forward. Johnson has been publicly critical of part-owner and executive vice president Jim Buss on several occasions, and it's unclear if Buss or general manager Mitch Kupchak will remain with the team after this season. Sam Amick of USA Today has already suggested this is bad news for Jim Buss, and given that Johnson is expected to be involved with "all business and basketball matters," he would presumably be part of the search for new leadership if the organization decides it's time to change course.