NBA: Buss breaks silence on Magic, backs Pelinka '100 percent'

Field Level Media/Reuters

Posted at Jun 25 2019 09:37 PM

Los Angeles Lakers owner and president Jeanie Buss arrives on the red carpet for the 2019 NBA Awards show at Barker Hanger. Gary A. Vasquez, USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

In April, Magic Johnson abruptly stepped down as the Los Angeles Lakers' president of basketball operations. 

In May, he gave an interview during which he ripped the organization, and in particular general manager Rob Pelinka -- whom Johnson accused of backstabbing the Lakers legend.

Now in June, Lakers owner Jeanie Buss broke her silence about the entire situation, reiterating her support of Pelinka.

Speaking on the red carpet before the NBA Awards Show in Santa Monica, Calif., on Monday, Buss said she has "100 percent confidence in (Pelinka) running our basketball operations," noting his hiring of Frank Vogel as the team's new head coach.

Before long, the interview shifted to Johnson and why Buss remained silent for so long after Johnson stepped down so suddenly.

"There really wasn't anything to say," Buss said. "When Magic decided he didn't want to be with the organization any longer in an official capacity, that took me off-guard so I needed time to figure out what the process was going to be. That's all."

As for her reaction to Johnson's resignation, Buss said it isn't the first time she has seen him make such an abrupt decision.

"As surprising as it was, it kind of reminded me back in 1981 when he asked to be traded after winning a championship with the Lakers (in 1980) because he wasn't happy about the way the offense had changed," Buss said, before pointing out that Johnson's displeasure with the offense early in his career led to the Lakers hiring Pat Riley to be head coach.

Ultimately, however, Buss tried to downplay the reported turmoil within the organization that caused chatter throughout the basketball world after Johnson's May interview on ESPN.

"It was a surprise when Magic turned in his resignation. I didn't see that coming," Buss said. "But everything else has been pretty much like as any organization moves forward and makes changes going into a new season. As much as has been speculated as what the Lakers are doing, to me we're in a really good place and we're following our path and our plan going into the next season.

"There are a lot of changes. Laker fans, be patient. We're going to get there. We will not finish until we're all proud."

On June 15, Pelinka agreed to trade three first-round draft picks plus Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart to the New Orleans Pelicans for All-Star big man Anthony Davis, according to multiple media reports.

The trade can't be finalized any sooner than July 6.

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