Magic named Lakers' president of basketball operations

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 21, 2017 2:44 PM

(Reuters) - Magic Johnson was named the president of basketball operations for the struggling Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday as one of the NBA's most storied franchises undergoes a major shakeup to the their front office.

In addition to promoting Johnson, a Hall of Famer who won five NBA titles with Los Angeles in the 1980s, Lakers Governor Jeanie Buss also fired general manager Mitch Kupchak and her brother, Jim, from his role as vice president of basketball operations.

"Today I took a series of actions I believe will return the Lakers to the heights Dr. Jerry Buss demanded and our fans rightly expect," Buss said in a statement.

"Effective immediately, Earvin Johnson will be in charge of all basketball operations and will report directly to me. Our search for a new general manager to work with Earvin and Coach Luke Walton is well underway and we hope to announce a new general manager in short order."

The Lakers, who last week were ranked second in Forbes' list of most valuable NBA teams at $3 billion, are in the midst of one of the worst on-court stretches in their history.

Los Angeles have not made the postseason, losing in the first round of the 2013 NBA playoffs and, with a 19-39 record that has them sitting second-last in the Western Conference, are headed to a fourth consecutive losing season.

Earlier this month the Lakers hired Johnson to advise ownership on basketball and business in a role the team said would include collaborating with coaches, evaluating and mentoring players and assessing future franchise needs.

Johnson, 57, who ended his 12-year career with the Lakers in 1991 after he was diagnosed with HIV, was a minority owner of the Lakers for several years after his retirement and built a business that owns movie theaters, health clubs and other properties.

Johnson, who staged a brief NBA comeback in 1996, was the face of a group that bought Major League Baseball's Los Angeles Dodgers for $2 billion in 2012. That group also bought Major League Soccer's Los Angeles FC and WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Clare Fallon)