Everything is fine in Los Angeles, according to Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson.
Following a report by Brian Windhorst of ESPN stating that LeBron James has been ignoring plays called by Lakers head coach Luke Walton, Johnson went on SiriusXM NBA Radio to deny that claim, saying it’s just ESPN trying to create a narrative about the Lakers (H/T Yahoo):
“Brian got it wrong,” Johnson said. “This is all about making sure that they can say something on ESPN and everybody can just talk. We have a system that the ball moves around, a lot of pick-and-roll plays. If you watch us play, the ball is not in LeBron James’ hands all of the time. It can’t be, because you want to pass it around, you want to get into your pick-and-roll plays.
“But hey, we’re the Lakers. People are going to be talking about us. But that’s not how it’s going right now.”
Perhaps what Johnson said is true, but even if it wasn’t, fans of the team wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
The Lakers are averaging the second-most points in transition per game (29.9), only trailing the Sacramento Kings (32.8). In their offense when they’re not at 100 miles per hour, they look like as bad as any other team in the league offensively.
Their offense in the half court is, more often than not, reliant on isolation possessions, usually between James or Brandon Ingram, who lead the Lakers in isolation possessions per game. This pick-and-roll heavy offense that Johnson speaks of isn’t one Lakers fans have seen with any sort of consistency this season.
Whether it’s James or Walton running the show, the Lakers need more from their offense in the half court. That noted, superstars around the league are going to call what they want at times. This is not just a LeBron thing, and acting as if it is ignores a lot of context.