Magic Johnson says Jim Buss is 'calling the shots' for Lakers
The new Lakers advisor says he'll be supportive of the man he has criticized many times
Magic Johnson officially returned to the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday. He'll report directly to Jeanie Buss and advise the team on basketball and business decisions. As soon as it happened, questions were raised about what this means for Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and executive vice president Jim Buss. Johnson has been outspoken about Jim Buss in recent years, arguing that Jim Buss needs to be less meddlesome in front-office decisions.
On his first day on the job, Johnson started trying to smooth things over. In an interview on Spectrum SportsNet, he said Jim Buss is still in charge and promised to support him.
"Jim is calling the shots," Johnson said, via the Orange County Register's Mark Medina. "I want him to understand I'm just here to lend advice. I'm not here to be anything but just give you some basketball knowledge."
There was also this, from Johnson's wonderful Twitter account:
I had a great conversation today with Mitch Kupchak and a really good phone call with Jim Buss!— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) February 3, 2017
What do we take from this? Pretty much nothing! No one has said definitively that Jim Buss will or won't be held to his timeline for making the Lakers into a contender, and no one knows exactly how involved Johnson will be with Lakers management. He has never held a front-office position before, and it's not clear how much time he wants to devote to improving the team's on-court product.
The decision on Jim is ultimately in Jeanie's hands, with Johnson said to be advising her. The fact Johnson has been on the record saying Jim has had too much power is not an indication they'll have a great working relationship, regardless of what he says on a Lakers-owned television channel.
It would have been crazy if Johnson had said anything other than what he said Thursday. Jim is still in charge of basketball operations for the Lakers, so Johnson couldn't exactly cut him down. The Hall of Famer didn't lie, either -- Jim is indeed calling the shots, at least for the next few months.
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