From the moment it was announced that Magic Johnson would return to the Los Angeles Lakers in an advisory role to team president Jeanie Buss, there has been basically non-stop speculation from the outside and leaks from the inside on what exactly his role might entail.
Johnson has even publicly given somewhat mixed messages, both saying that Lakers vice president Jim Buss would be “calling the shots” while also voicing a desire to “call the shots” himself.
With news that Johnson will be involved in the Lakers’ efforts at the upcoming NBA trade deadline, some have wondered/speculated/worried if he may try to kick-start the team’s rebuilding efforts by packaging a few of their younger players for a more established star or pseudo star, but based on Johnson’s comments during an appearance on CBS, it doesn’t sound like that’s part of his plan.
He also doesn’t sound like a man convinced chasing the biggest names in free agency (like the Russell Westbrook/Anthony Davis superhero team-up that is rumored to be coming down the line) is the only solution to the Lakers’ recent woes (via CBS):
“When I think about the Lakers and where we are today, I know it’s going to take some time. It’s going to take three to five years to get them back rolling again, but if we’re patient, if we develop our own players — because now in today’s NBA it’s different than when I played, because free agent movement is not like it used to be, and so you really have to make sure you try to hit a home run when you do draft, and that you really try to keep the players that you draft on your roster.”
Johnson, who noted he feels like he can turn businesses over to his team right now so he has time to be involved with the Lakers, also said that he has had offers to run other teams (like the Knicks) over the years, but that the Lakers were the only franchise he wanted to be involved in.
He also offered details on how Jeanie Buss convinced him to come aboard:
Magic on his conversation with Jeanie Buss over dinner that led to his hiring. He said she told him, "I'm going to make some changes." pic.twitter.com/HuNoS3xg2E— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) February 13, 2017
Johnson is (mostly) saying the right things to assuage the worries of fans, who might think based on his Twitter account that he would only focus on getting the Lakers into the room with the biggest names.
Doing so would certainly help the team (if they could nab a big fish), but if Johnson has been reading up on the Collective Bargaining Agreement like he claims, then he knows that the newest version of the document makes it harder than ever to get superstars to leave their current teams.
So while grabbing a superstar from another team would help, it appears Johnson is confident in the growth process of the players the Lakers already have, as well as making sure the team can keep them.
All stats per NBA.com. and Basketball-Reference.com. All quotes transcribed via CBS. Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.