In a move nobody saw coming, Michigan State University and NBA legend Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson has stepped down as President of Basketball Operations of the Los Angeles Lakers, the team that Magic won five NBA Championships and three MVPs with as a player.
Magic Johnson says he likes to be free to congratulate players such as Russell Westbrook when he hit the 20–20-20 mark. Says he couldn’t be himself and he hasn’t informed Jeanie Buss yet.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) April 10, 2019
HE DIDN’T EVEN HAVE THE GUTS TO TELL LAKERS OWNER JEANIE BUSS!
While Magic was busy signing dudes that LeBron James gave the okay to, he never got to fully embrace the role of President of Basketball Operations. That is not to say that Magic was bad at his job, however.
In fact, there is one team I can think of that would be a perfect fit for Magic’s services as President of Basketball Operations. That team is none other than the Detroit Pistons.
Magic’s hometown team would be a match made in Heaven for both sides. To start with the obvious, the Pistons are currently without a President of Basketball Operations. The closest thing they have is Ed Stefanski, who is officially listed as Senior Advisor of Basketball Operations.
All credit to Stefanski, who as actually not done a bad job in his pseudo-decision-making role. He did trade away Stanley Johnson for Thon Maker and sign Wayne Ellington. Both moves have been obvious plusses for the Pistons as they close in on being on the inside track for the NBA playoffs.
As much as Stefanski has tried to make a dollar out of fifteen cents, he pales in comparison to what Magic could bring to the front office. One is obviously the fanfare. For a fan base that is still iffy on the Pistons, bringing a respected basketball mind and local legend who also happens to be one of the greatest to ever put on a pair of sneakers to the front office would be massive image boost and give the impression that the team and owner Tom Gores is more interested in righting the ship than he is throwing t-shirts to half empty arenas.
The second thing Magic would bring to Detroit is a presence that could help sway free agents to Detroit. Whether you listen to the national media, local radio, or the drunkard at your local pub, you have surely heard the thought that Detroit is just not in any way a free agent destination. There is, of course, credence to that point. After all, the Pistons biggest free agent win recently is acquiring a secret meeting with Al Horford back in 2016. Now, you would be bringing a guy that managed to persuade LeBron James to leave home. Would a move like this make the Pistons a front-runner for soon to be free agent Kevin Durant? Of course not. But it would put the Pistons in a much better position to land the second and third tier guys necessary to take the next step.
Magic is also an aggressive trader. If there’s anything die-hard fans of the Pistons know, it’s that the next move to phase into possible contention is moving Reggie Jackson, Andre Drummond, and even Blake Griffin. While their individual value can be debated, what is clear as crystal is that Magic will do what it takes to get something done. It was widely publicized how strong he went after New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis, and while through no fault of his own, he was unable to land the coveted power forward, it demonstrated that Magic has the gusto to “go for it” and make the team better.
Trades are not the only way Magic has been able to make his teams better, however. The former Showtime Lakers conductor has an undeniable eye for talent. Since taking over as President of Basketball Operations in 2017, the Lakers have drafted Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, Moritz Wagner, and current Piston Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk. That’s a nice five player haul for only 2 years of work. Magic would add an instant upgrade in the draft room as the Pistons have famously missed on nearly all of their draft picks for the better part of a decade. It’s the main reason they’re in such a mess now.
Making a move to hire Magic will certainly not guarantee the Pistons an NBA Championship, but what it will do is guarantee that they are serious about competing with the other Eastern Conference powerhouses. The Pistons, who have long been one of the standard bearers in the East are just a little better than a laughing stock now, but all that could change with the addition of one of the most revered men in basketball.
The Pistons have the coach in Dwane Casey, they have a legit star in Blake Griffin, maybe Magic Johnson could be the missing piece to the Pistons puzzle.
The biggest question, of course, is if Magic Johnson would want to come to Detroit, or anywhere for that matter and resume the job he previously held with the Lakers. Magic has a great life, and certainly doesn’t need to do anything to add to his legacy. He’s got enough money to retire 10 lifetimes and he’ll always be beloved. If Magic wants the job, and wants to prove he can succeed somewhere as a major figure in the front office, the Pistons job should be his to turn down, and is the perfect fit for all parties.