When the Los Angeles Lakers held their exit interviews last week, President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson was conspicuously absent. When speaking to Spectrum Sportsnet at a recent Los Angeles Dodgers game, however, Johnson gave anyone seeking his thoughts on the team his two cents on their plans for the summer.
“I’m happy with the direction we’re headed. We’ve got a great strategy. Whether we keep the pick, in terms of the top-three (protected) pick, or not,” Johnson said. The Lakers will only keep their first round pick in the 2017 NBA Draft if it stays in the top-three selections following the lottery, something it currently has a 46.9 percent chance to do.
As for the talent currently on the team, Johnson said he has plans for them too.
“We told every player that they must improve and we want them to be in the best physical shape of their lives. We don’t want anybody over seven or eight percent body fat anymore, and basically all but one or two players were in double-figures in body fat (last season),” Johnson said. “We can’t have that. We told them that this is all about excellence now. So you’ve got to be disciplined and put the work in.”
Johnson also offered a warning for any Lakers thinking about not following that edict.
“Those who come back in shape, they’re going to see the court. Those who don’t, won’t see the court. It’s as simple as that,” Johnson said. “This is not about anything but excellence, so you’ve got to be a professional. This is your job.”
The Lakers executive doesn’t think getting in shape and trying to better themselves will be a problem for the young Lakers.
“They want to get better. So we gave them all three-to-five things to work on,” Johsnon said. “They took that well too, because every guy wants to improve.”
The positive response to his feedback left Johnson optimistic about the future of the team he’s now charged with building back up to a championship level.
“We’re truly excited, Rob and I, and we’ve had some great meetings with Luke as well. Everybody’s on the same page. Jeanie has mandated that she wants to win, and win now, in terms of the next couple of years here, and we’re going to do that,” Johnson said. “We feel really good about what’s going on.”
All quotes transcribed via Spectrum Sportsnet. All stats per NBA.com. and Basketball-Reference.com. Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.