This morning, Jeannie Buss made the announcement that Mitch Kupchak would be relieved of his GM duties for the Lakers, effective immediately. She also went on to say that Jim Buss would no longer hold his role as Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations. She’s brought in Magic Johnson to take over as President of Basketball Operations for the Lakers. This can have a few different outcomes, so the Lakers really improving under Magic isn’t necessarily a guarantee. But it wouldn’t take much to do better than they have been the last 3 seasons.
Mitch Kupchak is not a terrible GM, but he’s also not great. He is a little overrated by the city of Los Angeles based on some of the moves the team has made over the years, that haven’t really been made by Mitch himself. First of all, the only asset the Lakers gained out of the Shaq trade was Lamar Odom. Then, there was the Pau Gasol trade, and everyone thought Mitch had committed highway robbery, when in fact Jerry West himself was with the Grizzlies organization and he instigated the trade, which brought back Marc Gasol and opened up cap space to sign Zach Randolph in their upcoming off-season. So the trade worked for both sides, thanks to Jerry West. Then there was the whole Dwight Howard issue, and now the Lakers are in the position they are in, near the bottom of the Western standings 3 years running.
Along with the Dwight Howard saga came the Mike D’antoni issue as well, as Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak combined to sign Mike D’antoni to coach the Lakers instead of Phil Jackson, who had made it known that he wanted to return to the Lakers bench. This was the wrong choice, by far, and it ruined any team chemistry the Lakers could have put together, because the D’antoni offense does not work well with 2 big men, which resulted in him trying to bench Pau Gasol, and that just doesn’t make sense. After one failed season under D’antoni, he was let go, Dwight Howard left in free agency to sign with the Houston Rockets, and Pau Gasol left to sign with the Chicago Bulls. The Lakers 2nd championship dynasty plans were now nixed.
Jim Buss has a history of making decisions based on his stubbornness and it has negatively effected the Lakers over and over again. The decision to remove Jim and Mitch has been a long time coming, so that’s a sigh of relief for Laker fans everywhere. Magic Johnson is known to have some weird opinions, so it’s not guaranteed that this was a great signing, but as I said, at least they got rid of the original problem and are making an effort to rectify it.