Magic Johnson’s TMZ Interview Confirms a Nightmare Scenario in the LA Lakers’ Search for a Head Coach
While they aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, TMZ does manage to find celebrities and get them to answer questions on camera. Even if those interviews aren’t exactly ground-breaking, they can provide some insights. Take, for example, the outlet’s recent encounter with Magic Johnson.
Although the legendary guard didn’t seem too interested in talking, he did provide some insight into the Los Angeles Lakers’ search for a new head coach.
Not every revelation, however, is a positive one. Johnson only said a few words, but he still managed to confirm the Lakers’ big problem: The club is rotting from the head down.
Magic Johnson confirmed the names who are working to find the Lakers’ next head coach
Under most circumstances, Magic Johnson is usually happy to answer some questions and tell a story or two. While he wasn’t too interested in talking to TMZ, the guard’s comments still managed to shed some light on the Lakers organization.
During an impromptu interview, Magic was asked if he’d consider coaching the Lakers. He denied any interest in the position and suggested that Phil Jackson wasn’t ready to return to the bench.
“I don’t think Phil is going to coach again, but he’s helping with the look for a coach, so that’s good,” Johnson said.
The legendary guard was then asked if Jackson was the right man to help select a head coach. Magic didn’t exactly answer that question, but he did confirm the identities of those who are helping to guide the Lakers forward.
“Well, he’s going to do it with, I’m sure, Jeanie Buss and Rob Pelinka and Kurt Rambis,” the former Laker explained.
That brief answer tells us all we need to know about the Lakers’ coaching search
Needless to say, we shouldn’t read that much into a clearly uninterested Magic Johnson answering some impromptu questions on Hollywood Boulevard. While the guard didn’t reveal any brand new information, he did confirm what we’ve already known about the Lakers.
It goes without saying that Jeanie Buss and Rob Pelinka will be involved in the search for the next head coach. Even if they haven’t performed too well lately, the owner and general manager have to call the shots. Rambis’ presence isn’t ideal — we’ll talk about that later — but it isn’t surprising. He’s been an adviser within the club’s hierarchy since 2018 and seems to have the trust of Buss. Jackson has ties to the famous franchise, and Adrian Wojnarowski previously reported that the NBA veteran is involved in the coaching search.
Even if we’ve known about this brain trust, it’s still not ideal news for Lakers fans.
At the risk of painting with somewhat of a broad brush, no one in that group inspires confidence. As noted in a recent SB Nation post, many Lakers fans have lost faith in Buss. Rambis has a poor record as a head coach and has never really shown any reason why he should be trusted in an advisory capacity. Pelinka torpedoed the franchise by trading for Russell Westbrook, and his front office seems unwilling to own up to that mistake. Phil Jackson had a legendary coaching career, but as we learned from his time with the Knicks, that knowledge might not translate to the front office.
It’s not clear if Magic himself is involved — in February 2022, Bill Oram of The Athletic quoted Buss as saying she leans on Johnson and considers him part of the Lakers’ brass — but his track record isn’t stellar either. Remember, this is a man who struggled as the team’s president of basketball operations before suddenly resigning in 2019.
That’s all to say that the Lakers’ leadership group hasn’t exactly earned the fan base’s trust. If anything, it seems poised for internal competition, with each member having a different perspective. If Rob Pelinka, for example, knows that his job is on the line, why would he support the hypothetical hiring of a longer-term coach over someone who can (theoretically) win now?
At this point in time, the Los Angeles Lakers are going to have to make some tough decisions in order to get back to their best. The hiring of a new head coach will probably set a precedent. Will the franchise be able to buckle down and make the right choices, even if they’re unpleasant? Or will the brass act out of self-interest and a perceived sense of prestige?
While the composition of the hiring team doesn’t look promising, only time will tell.
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