Magic Johnson has stepped down from President of Basketball Ops of the Lakers.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 10, 2019
So Magic Johnson just called an impromptu press conference after Luke Walton got done and he announced he’s stepping down as president. Whoa.— Paolo Uggetti (@PaoloUggetti) April 10, 2019
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Johnson’s move is in large part because of an inability to fully commit to the rigors of the position.
Since taking over as president of the Lakers, Magic Johnson never fully committed to the job. Often he was traveling and away from the team. His office hours were limited. He didn't do a lot of scouting. Running an NBA team takes a tremendous commitment of time and energy.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 10, 2019
Furthermore, the difficult role seems to have taken some of his love of the game. As a player, Johnson was known for the joy he exhibited on the court, and the smile he always wore when playing the game.
Magic Johnson says that his position doesn’t allow him to be a statesman of the game of basketball. He says he wants to go back to his wonderful life away from this position. “I was happier when I wasn’t the president (of the Lakers)”— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) April 10, 2019
Johnson took over the position in February of 2017. Despite signing LeBron James over the summer, Johnson has been widely criticized this year for a series of moves. Those moves included letting Brook Lopez and Julius Randle go, spending the money from those players on Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, and Michael Beasley, and trading promising young center Ivica Zubac for Mike Muscala.
Only time will tell what this means for current Lakers coach and former Golden State Warriors assistant Luke Walton. Walton was hired by team president Jeanie Buss before Johnson and GM Rob Pelinka took over. While Buss has been openly supportive of Walton, rumors had swirled of disconnect between Johnson and his coach, and it was reported that Walton would be fired at the conclusion of the season.
The Lakers are now in an interesting spot, as they look to build around James (who is under contract for three more years), but need to find a new president of basketball operations first.