Last summer, Magic Johnson met with LeBron James at his home in Brentwood, CA and closed the deal for the Los Angeles Lakers. This summer, he’ll have the opportunity to do the same with Kawhi Leonard. Even though he’s no longer officially working for the Lakers.
According to Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times, Johnson will meet with Leonard’s camp when free agency starts next week, and he’ll be joined by Lakers team president and controlling governor Jeanie Buss:
Sources. Kawhi Leonard’s people plan on meeting with Lakers president Jeanie Buss and Magic Johnson next week when free agency starts. Will most likely be in LA— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) June 28, 2019
However, it seems Johnson won’t be part of the official team meeting, whatever that means.
Magic Johnson says he will help the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency in any way he can, but he is not permitted by NBA rules to be part of official team meetings with prospective free agents. Johnson said he has not been asked by the Lakers or owner Jeanie Buss to participate.— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) June 28, 2019
Johnson says “A friend of mine called and says Kawhi wants to meet with you,” Johnson told ESPN. “I said no problem. I’m available if that’s what this man wants.— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) June 28, 2019
“But I got a great life. I’m not trying to mess with anybody’s job.”
That makes all of this a lot more confusing. So maybe there will be multiple meetings? Maybe Johnson is allowed to meet with Leonard’s people in a meeting with Buss but not Leonard? Maybe because he was so recently employed by the team, he’s not allowed to do official team functions because of the perception that he was up to shenanigans? It’s not really clear, and adds more confusion to what’s going to be a wild weekend.
In other meeting news, LeBron James and Anthony Davis will also be part of the team’s pitch to Leonard, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic, but it’s unclear if that meeting will be separate from the one Leonard’s camp is taking with Johnson and Buss, or the official meeting. Who even knows what meeting is which anymore:
With the Lakers now expected to land a Kawhi Leonard meeting, a source tells @TheAthletic that LeBron James AND Anthony Davis are planning on being part of the formal pitch.— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) June 28, 2019
Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports first reported that the Lakers were going to get a meeting with Leonard on Thursday. It’s not clear how Davis can be a part of a meeting that involves Lakers personnel since he’s technically still a Pelican until next week, but none of this stuff is that clear right. All we know is that the Lakers are going to have people meet with Leonard and/or his camp, in some form or fashion.
Will they all meet in separate meetings? Will Magic and Davis wear disguises to one meeting with Lakers personnel? Will they just pretend to spontaneously run into each other at a restaurant? All relevant guesses for how this goes down https://t.co/wXjqNsuL2J— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) June 28, 2019
For those wondering why Johnson, who resigned from his position as the team’s president of basketball operations in April, would be desired as part of a pitch to Leonard, it should be noted that Leonard’s chief career and business strategist Dennis Robertson, or “Uncle Dennis,” grew up a Lakers fan and is an admirer of Johnson’s. It’s also believed that Robertson is the one that tried to get Leonard traded to Los Angeles last summer.
Lastly, Johnson was always expected to be involved in the Lakers’ pitches to free agents this summer. While he might not be in the room if they get a meeting with D’Angelo Russell (for obvious reasons), it’s safe to assume that he’ll be involved in their plans in some way, if the free agent wants to talk to him. Just apparently not their official meeting.
As for James and Davis, they’ve been doing their part to recruit free agents to Los Angeles all summer and surely Leonard is no exception. Hopefully the Lakers just plan on stacking $32 million in cash on a table next to James and Davis, who are arguably two of the league’s 10 best players.
I mean, what else needs to be said?