Lakers name Magic Johnson president, fire GM Kupchak, Buss

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The Los Angeles Lakers announced a seismic front-office shake-up on Tuesday, firing general manager Mitch Kupchak, naming Magic Johnson president of basketball operations and saying co-owner Jim Buss no longer will hold his role of executive vice-president of basketball operations.

Johnson, initially brought back as an adviser, said recently that his goal was to "call the shots" at the Lakers. Now, it appears he will.

In a statement that revealed the changes, effective immediately, team governor Jeanie Buss said: "I took these actions today to achieve one goal: Everyone associated with the Lakers will now be pulling in the same direction, the direction established by [Johnson] and myself. We are determined to get back to competing to win NBA championships again.

Johnson, 57, played for the Lakers from 1979-91 and in 32 games of the 1995-96 season. He is regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of a hallowed franchise that has won 16 NBA titles but fallen on hard times in recent years.

LA are 19-39 this season and 84-220 overall (.276) since last making the playoffs in 2012-13.

"It's a dream come true to return to the Lakers as president of basketball operations working closely with Jeanie Buss and the Buss family," said Johnson.

"Since 1979, I've been a part of the Laker Nation and I'm passionate about this organisation. I will do everything I can to build a winning culture on and off the court.

"We have a great coach in Luke Walton and good young players. We will work tirelessly to return our Los Angeles Lakers to NBA champions." 

Jeanie Buss expressed gratitude to Kupchak, 62, who upon his retirement as a player joined the team's front office in 1986 as then-GM Jerry West's assistant.

The son of long-time team owner Dr. Jerry Buss and Jeanie's brother, Jim Buss, 57, had said years ago that if he couldn't return the Lakers to their previous place among the NBA's best teams, then he would step aside.