Lakers Rumors: Magic Johnson Never Told Jeanie Buss of Issues with Rob Pelinka

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 21, 2019

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 18: (L-R) Magic Johnson, Rob Pelinka and Jeanie Buss attend Kobe Bryant's jersey retirement ceremony during a basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Golden State Warriors at Staples Center on December 18, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)
Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

As Magic Johnson spoke in depth on his issues with Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka on Monday morning, Lakers owner Jeanie Buss was apparently just like every other viewer watching the saga unfold. 

ESPN's Ramona Shelburne reported Buss had asked Johnson if he had anything he wanted to get off his chest regarding any friction with the team's front office. The Hall of Famer apparently kept quiet for the most part:

"Buss had questioned Johnson several times in the wake of his public resignation, asking him if there were any issues with Pelinka or anyone else in the organization. They spoke on the phone for hours. They went to a private dinner at Wally's in Beverly Hills on May 2. Multiple Lakers sources told ESPN that each time, Johnson said nothing beyond what he'd said on April 9—that he didn't feel like he could be Magic in this role and wanted his freedom back."

During Monday's edition First Take on ESPN, Johnson elaborated on why he abruptly resigned as the Lakers' president of basketball operations.

Johnson claimed Pelinka was undermining him behind the scenes by insinuating he wasn't around the office enough and working hard enough given his position in the organization. He added that Buss solicited a number of different opinions from those close to her, which created a sort of paralysis in the decision-making process.

Johnson's comments came on the same day Pelinka introduced Frank Vogel. As a result, Pelinka naturally had to address the situation.

"These things are surprising to hear and disheartening," he told reporters. "They're just simply not true. I stand beside him. I stand with him as a colleague and a partner. I've always supported everything he's done and will continue to."

Having Johnson publicly air the Lakers' dirty laundry isn't great and furthers the perception the franchise is a complete mess. However, Johnson isn't above scrutiny either.

The Athletic's Bill Oram wrote that painting Pelinka as the villain was somewhat unfair because "everyone said Magic wasn't ever in the office."

Pro Basketball Talk's Kurt Helin also explained how balancing a number of voices behind the scenes and resolving differences with his general manager are typically the duties of a president of basketball operations.

Perhaps Johnson would've been a good fit with a more experienced GM. He could've been the ceremonial figurehead while the GM built the team and did the day-to-day work.

Instead, the Lakers partnered Johnson with Pelinka, who was an agent before suddenly being thrust into the NBA front-office ranks.

This is a perfect case of process versus results. Johnson's departure should work in the Lakers' favor, but the way in which Los Angeles got there couldn't have unfolded in a worse way.

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