Magic Johnson surprised the entire basketball world tonight when he announced he is stepping down as president of basketball operations for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Johnson announced he would be stepping down during the pregame hours before the Lakers' game versus Portland at the Staples Center. The game is the Lakers' final game of the regular season which is also their final game for the 2018-19 season. It is also the first time the LeBron James will miss the post-season in 14 seasons.
Entering the game against Portland, the Lakers were fourth in the Pacific division at 37-44 and tenth in the western conference with no chance of recovering.
But with regard to recovery - the longer off-season will certainly give LeBron James the time to fully heal from the groin strain he suffered earlier this season - a point of comfort for the Lakers' ownership who signed James last summer to a four-year, $153.3-million contract. It will also allow the embattled roster to get healthy before next year.
It will also give the team time to deal with their coaching situation. Rumors have been circulating that head coach Luke Walton may have entered his final game as the Lakers' head coach because he was not someone vetted by Johnson.
Johnson has admitted that he did not like to conduct business within the strict NBA rules that govern contact with players of other organizations which may have been a large contributing factor to his decision as well.
But on Tuesday, Johnson cited the preservation of his relationship with Lakers' ownership as the key reason he was stepping down.
The most shocking revelation about the announcement, however, was the fact that Johnson admitted he had not informed Lakers owner and long-time friend Jeanie Buss of his decision.
“Somebody’s going to have to tell my boss because I knew I couldn’t be face-to-face and tell her,” Johnson told reporters.
Johnson announced he will be going back to his mentoring efforts that are much easier to deal with emotionally than the front office decision.
Now that Johnson has vacated his position, will GM Rob Pelinka be next to go - either on is own or with help from the Lakers' ownership? We'll see who's left standing in the coming weeks or possibly minutes after the Lakers regular season ends.