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Lakers Exit Interviews: Highlights from Day 2

Don’t ask Magic Johnson about free agency, guys.

NBA: Preseason-Minnesota Timberwolves at Los Angeles Lakers Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers wrapped up their exit interviews on Friday with general manager Rob Pelinka, president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and head coach Luke Walton.

There were no quirky tidbits made by Magic, Rob or Luke, but there were topics covered that weren’t covered in yesterday’s exit interviews. Here’s everything you missed, from free agency to Julius Randle’s future with the team.

Let’s talk about (anything but free agency), baby

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Cleveland Cavaliers David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Fool Magic Johnson once, shame on you. Fool Magic Johnson twice, shame on him, but good luck fooling him a third time.

After getting slapped with two hefty tampering fines in his first full season as president of basketball operations, Magic shut down any questions about free agency during his exit interview.

“We can’t tell you what’s going to happen in July, so we’ll just wait until July,” Johnson said.

To Magic’s credit, it’s true. No one knows what’s going to happen in free agency and if they do know what’s going to happen because of some under the table commitment with a player, it’s not like they’re going to come out and say that.

However, the Lakers do have control over what they do with their own players. When asked about whether the team would be open to parting with some pieces of their young core to bring in a superstar talent, Magic remained mum on roster movement.

Safe to say that until someone has put a pen to paper, the Lakers will not be answering any questions about free agency or anything related to it.

The front office wants the Lakers to get swole

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Los Angeles Clippers Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

In last year’s exit interviews, Magic Johnson challenged each and every player to get into the “best physical shape of their lives” over the summer and by the looks of it, Julius Randle was the only one that took that to heart. Fast forward a year and the message hasn’t changed from the front office.

However, this year they’ve taken it a step futher, according to general manager Rob Pelinka.

“We know that the young players in the league today learn by images,” Pelinka said. “They live on Instagram and Snapchat ... so Earvin and I put together a lookbook that has images in it of some of the great players, the transcendent, first team All-NBA, MVP-type players. What did they look like physically? What was their physique as a rookie?”

Pelinka (wisely) declined to name players in the lookbook, but said it shows side by side pictures of players bodies from their rookie year to their fourth or fifth year in the league.

Both Magic and Pelinka praised Randle for transforming his body in the offseason and want the entire roster to take the same approach. I, for one, completely agree that the Lakers would be better if they were all 6’9, 240 lbs. and shredded.

Luke Walton wants Julius Randle back

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Golden State Warriors Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

While the front office didn’t want to talk about free agency, head coach Luke Walton didn’t mind so much. Specifically one free agent: Julius Randle.

“Julius Randle is a big part of what we’ve accomplished this year,” I think continuity is a big thing for us and I think it’s obvious that yes, I would love to have Julius back next year. Now there’s other factors that go into that from a coaching standpoint, I would love to have Julius back.”

The relationship between Randle and Walton didn’t start off great this season, with Walton deciding to bring Randle off the bench in favor of Larry Nance Jr. and at times rookie Kyle Kuzma. But Walton said he feels that rough patch in their relationship helped them build the strong bond they have now.

“I think it was great for both of us and I think that’s why I put such a huge value on, within the culture, relationships and being in coaching for those relationships, for trying to help players get better ... when you have those types of relationships I think you can truly challenge people and they should be able to challenge you back. I think that’s a perfect example of Julius and I,” Walton said.

Walton understands that the NBA is a business and there’s a chance Randle won’t be back next season, but he’s happy for Randle, who’s expected to see a substantial pay raise this summer, regardless.

“He earned everything he got this year and I’m happy for him, excited for how his offseason is going to play out,” Walton said.

Randle’s future in Los Angeles is ultimately up to the front office, who can match any offer made for him in free agency. If Walton’s opinion holds any weight this summer, Randle should be back in a Lakers uniform.

You can check out our highlights from day one of exit interviews here!

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