The Lakers held a news conference Monday to introduce new head coach Frank Vogel, but much of the focus was on two other people, one of whom wasn’t even there.
Hours earlier, former Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson dropped some bombshells on ESPN, saying he felt betrayed by Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka and that he didn’t have enough power as Lakers president.
That left Pelinka to face questions about his former colleague in addition to his recent coaching hire.
“These things are surprising to hear and disheartening,” Pelinka said of Johnson’s comments. “But I look forward to the opportunity to talk with him and sit down with him and work through them ... because they’re just simply not true. I stand beside him, I stand with him as a colleague, as a partner. I’ve always supported everything he’s done and continue to and I think that’s the best way to address that.”
Speaking during an hour-long interview with ESPN’s “First Take” on Monday morning, Johnson said Pelinka betrayed him when the two worked together, and that the large number of people who had Jeanie Buss’ ear eroded his power as the Lakers president of basketball operations. Johnson cited those as the main reasons why he resigned as the Lakers’ president of basketball operations.
Here’s more coverage of the news conference from The Times’ staff:
Vogel on assistant coach Jason Kidd
Vogel said he briefly discussed Jason Kidd’s history of domestic violence issues with Kidd. Vogel said he believes Kidd is in a different place now.
Tania Ganguli | 12:29 a.m.
The news conference started late and the Lakers cut it off at exactly 11:30 a.m., with a lot of questions left unanswered. A lot of reporters had their hands up, but each beat writer got to ask one question each.
Lot of questions went unanswered today. The Lakers started a few minutes late and cut off the press conference at exactly 11:30.— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) May 20, 2019
So how will the turmoil affect the Lakers’ status going into free agency?
“We feel we have very, very strong appeal’ to free agents, Pelinka said.
Helene Elliott | 11:28 a.m.
Rob Pelinka is being asked questions that Lakers owner Jeanie Buss should be answering— Helene Elliott (@helenenothelen) May 20, 2019
No more president of basketball operations
Jeanie Buss is eliminating the position of president of basketball operations, which was created for Magic Johnson. Rob Pelinka runs basketball operations as the GM now.
Arash Markazi | 11:21 a.m.
Good luck with that
Pelinka: “First and foremost we do want today to be about Coach Vogel.”
Tania Ganguli | 11:19 a.m.
Rob Pelinka said he spoke to Magic about the combine and the No. 4 pick two days ago!!!— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) May 20, 2019
LeBron James is on the scene
Players LeBron James and Josh Hart are in attendance.
Pelinka makes an opening statement
Rob Pelinka started with an opening statement about the optimism around the organization. He spoke for a couple of minutes, then handed it over to Vogel, who said he sees a lot of promise in this team.
Tania Ganguli | 11:14 a.m.
Staff writer Arash Markazi contributed to this report.
Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli