Perhaps the best example of the lack of experience and unpreparedness of a front office headlined by former president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and current general manager Rob Pelinka were the puzzling signings made after acquiring their prized jewel in LeBron James.
The two executives had their mind made up as to who would take the court next to their four-year, $154 million investment, reportedly doing so without consulting any member of the coaching staff, including former head coach Luke Walton, according to ESPN’s Baxter Holmes.
Johnson hinted at his unconventional choice to nab guys like Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, Michael Beasley and JaVale McGee — all non-shooters except for the re-signing of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope — who had an underwhelming year after signing a $12 million deal to remain with the team.
Some employees claim to have learned of the signings through media reports. A Lakers spokesperson said Pelinka and Johnson consulted with everyone in the front office, but that those decisions were ultimately made by the duo:
“We all had the same reaction that the basketball world did, like what the f*** are we doing?” one Lakers coaching staff member told Holmes. “Not only are we not getting shooting, but we’re also getting every basket case left on the market.”
“We were all confused,” a front office staffer said. “All of it made no sense.”
These players signed by this front office were soon dubbed “The Meme Team” — a term that wouldn’t stick around too long, given the interspersed minutes and lack of playing time they’d see on the court.
Johnson and Pelinka were hoping to look like the smartest men in the room, but ultimately failed due to their inability to construct a solid roster and unwillingness to make it a group decision, ignoring their own lack of experience at this juncture.