Helin: "Magic Didn't Understand The Job"

There was "a lot of truth" in what Magic Johnson said Monday, but he clearly misunderstood what his role with the Lakers entailed

May 21, 2019 - 8:51 am
Magic Johnson Rob Pelinka Lakers

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Magic Johnson went public with his Lakers grievances Monday, portraying the organization as a backstabbing, dysfunctional mess. 

Should we believe Magic’s version of events? Yes. Sort of.

“I think there’s a lot of truth to that,” NBC Pro Basketball Talk analyst Kurt Helin said on Ferrall on the Bench. “But I had heard going back to last summer – not from (Rob) Pelinka, but from other sources close to the Lakers – that Magic parachutes in. Apparently this was cleared with Jeanie Buss, but basically he said, ‘I’m not dropping my other businesses.’ So what he’d do is parachute in for two or three days a couple times a month and talk to guys on the phone. But it wasn’t hands-on.”

And make no mistake: that is a very hands-on kind of job.

“If you are the president of basketball operations, that is a full-time grinding job,” Helin said. “That is a long, hard job, and getting to fire the coach or make a trade or have the hammer on a trade is a small percentage of the job. You’ve got to show up and set a culture tone and do all his stuff that’s just work. Magic didn’t do that, but I don’t think Pelinka helped the cause. Pelinka was making a power play behind his back. I think all of that is true.”

Magic, however, clearly didn’t know what he was doing – or what he was supposed to be doing.

“Magic didn’t understand the job,” Helin said. “He really didn’t understand what was entailed. You’re like, ‘Rob Pelinka is sticking knives in my back, and the younger Buss kids are angling for this, and Tim Harris, the business-side CEO is kind of coming over to the basketball stuff.’ Do you know what your job as president of basketball operations is? Deal with that. That is exactly what the job is. He didn’t seem to get it. He thought Jeanie would deal with all that and he could treat this like a basketball consultant position, rather than doing the job.”

While many analysts believe Magic’s comments could hurt the Lakers in free agency, Helin believes they are still very much in the running for Anthony Davis, among other stars.

“I think they’re going to get somebody this summer,” he said. “Maybe it’s Jimmy Butler, maybe it’s Kemba Walker – maybe it’s a lot of things. I think they’re going to get somebody this summer. Whether that’s good enough and whether they can put the pieces around LeBron and said star to actually win a lot of games is the million-dollar question. They did a horrible job building the roster around LeBron last year. Hopefully they learned a couple lessons.”

Click below to listen to Helin’s interview in its entirety.