After Dismal Season, Magic Johnson Steps Down As Lakers President

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

So it must have killed him to see Lakers icon Magic Johnson quit as president of basketball operations during an impromptu press conference Tuesday evening. Johnson told reporters that he was stepping down before informing Jeanie Buss, the controlling owner of the team. A person familiar with Buss' thinking said Johnson's decision did not guarantee Walton's job was safe.

He said he was exhausted of not being able to talk to players on other teams and mentor them without the specter of tampering.

All of the attention is on LeBron James now, who signed a four-year, $154 million deal in free agency and missed the playoffs for the first time since the 2004-05 season with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Magic Johnson stunned the sports world Tuesday night by announcing he's leaving the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Lakers are clearly in a major state of dysfunction at the moment and have a ton of decisions to make moving forward. I don't think his say-so is like his say-so.

Johnson said he worked well with Pelinka during his tenure as Lakers president, but it took an adjustment period for the two to get to know each other. As far as we know, that did not happen, and James seemingly made an easy transition from Cleveland to Los Angeles without a series of pitches from the teams Smith had mentioned.

He stepped into the position following the organization's reshaping of its leadership team, with the firing of general manager Mitch Kupchak and relieving Jim Buss of his role as executive vice president of basketball operations. They opened with a 20-14 record, but James suffered a strained groin on December 25.

Johnson said his inability to speak freely about rival players was a contributing factor, calling himself a "free bird" who didn't like being "handcuffed".

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