The first move Magic Johnson made after he took the reins of the Lakers was trading Lou Williams to the Rockets for Corey Brewer and a first-round pick. It’s a long-standing truism that Daryl Morey lives to prey on new executives, feeling out any weaknesses.
Which is why this story, embedded deep in Ramona Shelburne’s brilliant palace intrigue story about the Buss family, brought a huge smile to my face:
His first day on the job was spent fielding trade calls. Utah's offer of a first-round pick for Williams was off the table by then, so Magic told teams he was looking for a first-round pick and a player whose salary and time left on his contract matched up with Williams'. Johnson told any team that didn't offer a first not to call back until it was ready to do so.
Rockets GM Daryl Morey offered a first and Corey Brewer. Johnson told him he had a deal. The quick trigger was a departure from Kupchak's deliberate negotiating style. Rather than waiting to see if the offers improved in the offseason, by finding a team that would part with a first-round pick and could absorb Williams' salary this year and next without sending back a player under contract beyond next year, Johnson preferred to take what was certain now.
MOREY DA GOD.
Here, I bring you a scene from inside the Rockets’ front office, the morning after Jeanie Buss and Magic’s takeover is complete:
SCENE OPENS: TOYOTA CENTER OFFICES, DARYL MOREY IS POURING COFFEE. GERSSON ROSAS ENTERS THE BREAK ROOM.
ROSAS: Hey Big D, did you see what happened in L.A.? Crazy shit man. Can’t believe Magic Johnson is running things over there now
MOREY: Yeah. Do you think he’d take Corey Brewer for Lou Williams? Their salaries are basically equal.
ROSAS: Haha no, come on. I’m sure they can do a little better than that. Brewer’s still under contract for next year.
MOREY: What if we throw in this year’s first-round pick? We’d probably burn it on a Euro player that we’d stash anyway.
ROSAS: Hmm, that could work. I’m sure there are better deals out there, though. Would have to hope he’s looking to get in there and make some rash, decisive moves to show he’s in charge. Something we’d never do here because we’re analytical and stuff.
MOREY FURIOUSLY TAPS SOMETHING ON HIS IPHONE
MOREY: Magic! Or should I call you Earvin? Haha. So listen, about Lou Williams. We’re willing to part with a first-round pick and Corey Brewer. He’s good but he doesn’t play defense. Only us, the no-defense Rockets, would really want him...
DARYL LOOKS INTO CAMERA, WINKS. FADE TO BLACK