The Los Angeles Lakers have been plenty busy in the final days of the NBA All-Star break. Team owner Jeanie Buss sent shockwaves throughout the league when she relieved Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss of their front office duties and named Magic Johnson as the team’s President of Basketball Operations.
On his first day on the job, Johnson got right to work, trading Lou Williams to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Corey Brewer and a 2017 first-round pick. While Johnson continued to work the phones on Wednesday, seeking deals before Thursday’s trade deadline, head coach Luke Walton had the team back on the court for their first post All-Star practice.
Walton spoke about his new boss after practice, and it sounds like their working relationship is off to a great start.
Walton on starting to work with Magic: “He’s fun to work with, he really is. We’ve had great talks. We’ve bounced ideas off each other.”— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) February 22, 2017
When Johnson expressed a desire for a larger role in the front office, he noted that communication with Walton was going to be a key factor in the team’s rebuilding efforts. Johnson understood that Walton’s input would be important so the front office could get their coach players that fit into his system. According to Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding, Johnson and Walton were working together while trying to orchestrate trades on Tuesday, so it appears the two are already developing that rapport.
At noon pacific time on Thursday, the trade window will officially be closed, meaning the next time the Lakers will be able to bolster the roster will be in July when the free agency period begins. The Lakers’ free agent struggles in recent years have been well-documented, but Walton believes that Johnson could help turn things around and attract players to Los Angeles again.
Luke Walton on Magic Johnson, free agent recruiting: “If I’m sitting in a room with Magic and he’s selling me something, I’m buying.“— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) February 22, 2017
With Johnson, Walton and new general manager Rob Pelinka now in the fold, the Lakers hope to capitalize in free agency with more charismatic salesmen orchestrating those meetings that are sure to come this summer. But before that point, Johnson will look to remain active in the final hours leading up to the trade deadline as Walton turns his focus to developing the young group of players on the roster.
A new era is underway in Los Angeles. The Lakers hope to truly put the past behind them and start building a successful future. It will be a long process, but Walton, Johnson and the rest of the new regime appear to be off to a promising start as they aim to turn their vision into reality.