A change appears to be just over the horizon in LA.
On Thursday, the Los Angeles Lakers announced that Earvin "Magic" Johnson will return to the team to assist Lakers president Jeanie Buss in "all areas of basketball and business."
Previously, Buss had stayed out of the basketball side of the business and allowed her brother, Jim Buss, to manage the product on the court in accordance with her late father's wishes.
However, the Lakers have put together three losing seasons since Dr. Jerry Buss passed, and a fourth straight losing season is 31 games short of completion. As the losing has mounted, Jim Buss has shouldered the brunt of the blame for the franchise's decline on the court. Also, Jim Buss made a now famous promise to his siblings, i.e. the owners of the team, that the Lakers would be contenders for a title by the end of the 2016-17 season or he would step down.
Seventeen games below .500, the Lakers are not contending for anything but a top three lottery pick.
Johnson, who was one of Jim Buss' most public and vocal critics in the past, joining Jeanie Buss to advise on basketball matters is a strong signal that Jim Buss' days with the Lakers are numbered. Johnson's arrival puts the writing on the wall that the Lakers are set to change their front office over the upcoming summer. Whether that change includes Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak remains to be seen, but certainly, the move to bring in Johnson should turn the heat up on Jim Buss' control of the basketball operations.
The Lakers also listed that Johnson's duties included "collaborating with coaches, evaluating and mentoring players, assessing future franchise needs, and helping ownership to determine the best path for growth and success."
In addition, Johnson will report directly to Jeanie Buss, and so, the move away from Jim Buss managing the basketball operations of the storied franchise seemingly took an accelerated turn on Thursday.