In the final installment of the “Locked on Lakers” season review series, Pete Zayas and I take a look at the front office, which just completed its first full season at the helm of the Los Angeles Lakers. So far, Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka have acquitted themselves quite well.
As with every season review show, the episode is broken into three segments: Expectations, Production, and Looking Ahead. They’re exactly what you think they are.
Johnson and Pelinka took over for Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss right at last year’s trade deadline. The Lou Williams trade they did make was solid, but hardly their own doing considering when they took over. Speaking of take-overs, the way they arrived at their current jobs was, well, as Pete says: “Shady.”
The process by which they were hired was not one that inspired a ton of confidence. Yes, Magic is arguably Los Angeles’ brightest star and Pelinka had a long history both in the NBA and with the Lakers, but the hiring pool was just them. You’d better get that right.
So, expectations for this group were pretty low, by Lakers standards.
Thus far, Maginka has successfuly traded Williams for a first rounder, drafted Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart and Thomas Bryant, and somehow turned Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance, Jr. into the necessary cap space to pursue multiple superstars this year and a first round pick.
You can knock the process by which they were hired (and the D’Angelo Russell trade), but in terms of just the production itself, it’s hard to complain about the job they’ve done thus far with yet another “biggest summer in Lakers recent history” ahead of them.
The Russell and Clarkson trades put the onus squarely on Magic Johnson. He was hired for his charism, his ability as lead salesman of the Los Angeles Lakers. This offseason (and next if you’re patient) is where he’ll earn his salary and reputation.
For the full discussion between Pete and I, listen below.