The Los Angeles Lakers’ free agency woes over the last several summers have been no secret. The team has blown pitch meetings with LaMarcus Aldridge and failed to even secure them with players like LeBron James and Kevin Durant.
The team hired Magic Johnson to advise the organization on Tuesday, and he thinks he can help with the Lakers’ recruiting pitches if they want his assistance.
"I think we started that today with Jeanie saying 'Hey, Earvin, come aboard,’” Johnson said during an appearance on “Connected With...” on Spectrum Sportsnet. “Guys know I'm about winning. Guys know I understand them. I think agents now know that 'okay, Magic also knows winning. He knows how to put their players in a winning situation.’
“The other step is we got young talent where they can say 'okay, I can see myself in that lineup now and as soon as I see myself in that lineup, we're going to another level,’" Johnson continued.
Johnson doesn’t think the Lakers would need much more than that in order to rise back towards the heights they reached while he was a player.
"We're a superstar away from competing with both of those teams," Johnson said, referencing the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs. "One guy changes our landscape, because we've got everything that we need now except that one guy to make everybody better.
“That's why I joined, because if I felt we were far away, and it was going to be a waste of my time, I wouldn't be here. I wouldn't have taken this role,” Johnson said. “I know that we have the pieces in place and we're going to continue to get better. My role is to make sure that I send that message out to everybody."
The Lakers’ first free agency pitch to Aldridge two summers ago was widely criticized for reportedly not focusing enough on basketball, to the degree the Lakers were reportedly given a second meeting in order to discuss the game more with Aldridge.
As arguably the best point guards in NBA history, lack of basketball credentials wouldn’t seem to be a problem for Johnson.
"You don't have to have a lot of people in the room. You just have to have a basketball guy in the room telling [players] what they want to hear,” Johnson said. “You just have to really be able to execute and let people know that we're really serious about winning, and I think we've taken the first step by bringing me on board."
All quotes transcribed via Spectrum Sportsnet. Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.