Magic Johnson is trying to go back-to-back like it’s 1988. After closing the LeBron James deal for the Los Angeles Lakers last summer, Johnson is doing his part to secure Kawhi Leonard, despite not holding an official title with the team anymore.
Johnson isn’t allowed to be part of the team’s official pitch to Leonard due to concerns about how him stepping away from his position to tamper would look around the league, but there is nothing that restricts Johnson from talking with Leonard on his own and recruiting him.
According to Broderick Turner and Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times, that’s exactly what he did on Sunday:
Magic Johnson spoke with Leonard and his uncle, Dennis Roberston, on Sunday, Johnson told The Times. According to people familiar with the discussion, they had a positive conversation about the direction of the Lakers.
Johnson’s name might not hold the same amount of weight among Lakers fans after his disappointing tenure as the team’s president of basketball operations from 2017 to 2019, but it’s not hard to imagine he’s still a role model for a hometown kid like Leonard. Robertson is also a well-known fan of Johnson’s.
If Johnson is a driving reason that Leonard is wearing a purple and gold uniform on opening night, it’s safe to say he’ll have redeemed himself in the eyes of Lakers fans. It should be noted, though, that these leaks are probably coming out to paint him in that exact light, so take that for what you will.
Leonard is expected to have his official meeting with the Lakers some time soon. At the request of Leonard’s camp, team president and governor Jeanie Buss will be the only person to pitch Leonard at the official team meeting. LeBron James and Anthony Davis are also expected to reach out to Leonard eventually, though it’s unclear at this time how much they’ll be involved in the recruiting process, especially since Davis is still technically a Pelican and can’t interact with Lakers officials until the trade for him is completed on July 6.
Stay tuned for updates.