It’s been less than 24 hours since Magic Johnson offered to give everyone in Lakers locker room a big hug, and he’s already over being Mr. Nice Guy.
Before the Lakers tipped off against the Philadelphia 76ers for their matinee matchup on Sunday, Johnson spoke to reporters and aired out his grievances with everyone from New Orleans Pelicans manager Dell Demps to the players on his team.
For the first time since the NBA trade deadline on Thursday, Johnson indirectly addressed the well-reported trade negotiations between the Lakers and Pelicans, and said that he knew what he was getting into (via Dave McMenamin of ESPN):
”We knew that basically at the end of the day what happened, happened,” Johnson said before the Lakers played the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday. “And we knew that when we first started in terms of what happened. But hey, it is what it is.”
Johnson was also asked whether he felt trade negotiations the Lakers were in — with the heavy implication being specifically about the Davis talks run by general manager Dell Demps and executive vice president Mickey Loomis — were conducted in good faith from the time Davis’ trade request became public until the deadline passed without a deal.
Johnson replied, flatly, “No.”
Johnson also took a more tough love approach when asked how he expects the locker room to respond to being involved in trade rumors over the past few weeks:
“Quit making this about thinking these guys are babies, because that’s what you’re treating them like. They’re professionals. All of them.” pic.twitter.com/UdAWCrDFnT— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) February 10, 2019
To be fair to Johnson, it’s probably getting tiresome for him to answer the same question over and over again, but then again, his negotiation skills, or lack thereof, is the reason he’s getting them.
He’s also coming off as someone that doesn’t want to take responsibility for his own shortcomings as an executive with these comments. Even if we allow for the (highly unlikely) possibility that Johnson and the Lakers didn’t leak any of the reported offers they were making for Davis, he still offered basically his entire team for one player. Davis is good enough to make that decision defensible, but Johnson also should have been ready for how that would play in the locker room if this didn’t work out.
Just like head coach Luke Walton and the young core, Johnson is learning, but if he’s not going to hold himself accountable, who will? Hopefully that question is answered before some irrational decisions are made.