The Los Angeles Lakers attempted to make some magic on Thursday, announcing that they had hired former point guard Magic Johnson to advise team governor Jeanie Buss on both basketball and business.
But it’s not just Jeanie he wants to make himself available to. Johnson said he’d be available to all of the Buss family, as well as Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak. That group includes Lakers vice president Jim Buss, who Johnson has feuded with publicly in the past.
Despite those issues, Johnson said during an appearance on “Connected With...” on Spectrum Sportsnet that he wasn’t looking to step on Buss’ toes.
“Jim [Buss] is calling the shots, and I want him to understand I’m just here to lend advice,” Johnson said, adding that he was planning to set up a meeting with Jim by the end of the day. He began his first day by (apparently) teaching the other Buss siblings the finer points of the finger roll:
First day on the job. #LakeShow pic.twitter.com/kwKohPWw9x— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) February 3, 2017
Johnson added that he’d be available to work with the Lakers coaching staff and players, if Walton wanted him around. He sounded especially excited to work with D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle:
Magic Johnson talking about his plans for the Lakers, which include building D’Angelo Russell into a leader (in interview on @SpectrumSN) pic.twitter.com/IMcOBrGlAc— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) February 3, 2017
Let's check in on Magic- pic.twitter.com/8Aemq2DnfA— Grant Goldberg (@GrantGoldberg) February 3, 2017
Magic swooning over Julius Randle. Funny stuff. pic.twitter.com/zc9xcSPp40— Grant Goldberg (@GrantGoldberg) February 3, 2017
It’s not hard to imagine why. As a former 6’9 point guard, Johnson transcended traditional positional designations, and neither Russell nor Randle can be pidgeonholed into a traditional position, either. Working with Johnson could be great for both players, and it sounds like Randle is open to it (Russell was not asked during his postgame interview that aired on Spectrum Sportsnet):
Julius Randle said having Magic Johnson around in his new role is “amazing” and "a really big plus for all of us.” (on @SpectrumSN)— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) February 3, 2017
Even putting aside the weird personal dynamics at play, how Johnson’s work with the front office will go is less clear, given he’s never been in such a position before outside of the ceremonial vice president title he had stripped last year for tweeting about Kevin Durant and other free agents.
We won’t get many concrete answers on how Johnson will actually affect the organization until we see it play out, but Johnson had a message for the fans on what to expect.
“One thing about this organization is that we always come back and we’ll come back again,” Johnson said. “I’m here to say that we’ll take that step.”
All quotes transcribed via Spectrum Sportsnet unless otherwise cited. Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.