The former Lakers president of basketball operations, who announced his departure from the franchise in a hastily arranged press conference, said on “First Take” on Monday morning that Rob Pelinka was part of the reason for his departure, as the general manager was stabbing him in the back in a position that he felt was losing power.
“I wasn’t having fun coming to work anymore,” the Lakers legend said, “especially when I gotta work beside [Pelinka], knowing that you want my position.”
Johnson said numerous agents called him with a message to watch out for Pelinka, though he never tried to fire the general manager. He wanted to bring in his own coach — Tyronn Lue being a preferential candidate. The Lakers hired Frank Vogel for the job last week.
“If you want to elevate yourself, I’m all for that,” Johnson said. “But there’s a way to get that, and it’s not talking about the person that’s above you.”
Pelinka remains with the Lakers as general manager.
“I didn’t like those things [Pelinka] was saying behind my back, that I wasn’t in the office enough,” Johnson said. “So I started getting calls from my friends outside of basketball saying those things now were said to them. … Not just in the Lakers, into the media and so on.”
Johnson resigned April 9 after three meetings with Lakers owner/president Jeanie Buss, as Johnson had worked to persuade her that Luke Walton should be fired.
“I showed her the things [Walton] did well and the things he didn’t do well,” Johnson said. “I said listen, we gotta get a better coach. I like him, he’s great, former Laker, the whole thing.”
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But Buss hemmed and hawed and brought in Lakers COO Tim Harris, who wanted to keep Walton. Johnson realized he did not have the sway he believed he had.
“I don’t have the power I thought I had to make the decisions,” Johnson said.
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