Magic Johnson Isn’t Sleeping Much These Days

Keegan Stewart 2/14/19 LUBBOCK TX,

July 1st2018 appeared to be a day that would shine in glory for a long time; not only in the Southern California area, but for Laker fans across the country. This was the day that LeBron James announced to the world he would be leaving Cleveland to join the Los Angeles Lakers. 

 

Magic Johnson, former Laker great and 5 time NBA champion was played a pivotal role in recruiting LeBron to LA. He serves as President of Basketball Operations for the Lakers. Johnson felt a great amount of pressure to deliver big names to the Lakers throughout free agency. Securing LeBron took a lot of pressure off of his shoulders. After all, earlier in the summer Johnson made a really bold statement when it came to recruiting free agents. :"If I can't deliver, I'll step down myself," Johnson told reporters. "[Lakers owner Jeanie Buss] won't have to fire me, I'll step away from it. Because then, I can't do this job."

 

So LeBron is in town - you have a lot of young pieces around him - as well as a bunch of depth via experienced veterans. If you’re Magic Johnson, going into this NBA season you have to be feeling pretty good… Going into the NBA All Star Break this weekend, I don’t think anybody expected the Lakers to be where they’re at. This is not a good thing for Magic Johnson. The Lakers currently sit 10thin the West. This is the exact same spot that they finished last year’s season. If the playoffs started tomorrow, LA would miss them yet again. 

 

I know what you’re thinking… LeBron just missed over a month due to a groin injury, of course they’re struggling…YES.. This is undoubtedly a significant part of the problem. However, I think there is another issue present in LA that will potentially limit the ceiling for LeBron’s first campaign as a Laker:

Magic Johnson and company recently tried to make some roster moves before last week’s NBA Deadline. In fact, they tried really hard to make some moves. They wanted to trade for Anthony Davis. They REALLY wanted to trade for New Orleans’ Anthony Davis. They did not get it done. Their efforts to try and accumulate him may have already had some serious consequences with the way the Lakers function in a locker room as well as how they view each other as team. 

 

The issue arose whenever the trade offers that Magic was sending over to the Pelicans became very public to the media. Sources say that the Pels were leaking this information to the media. This is an intentional strategy done in hopes to bring negative effects to the locker room of the Lakers. As this might not be a huge deal with other trades, the circumstances of what the Lakers were trying to offer made this significant. Magic Johnson was offering ALOT: Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Lannce Stephenson, Ivica Zubac, as well as draft picks and salary cap relief. Not only is this five players on the Lakers; these are five players on the Lakers that have had a very significant role in who their team has been thus far. Now what are these five players supposed to think about their worth to this organization? What are they going to think about the loyalty from the front office? What is more, what are these players going to think about their leader, LeBron James? It is strongly believed that LeBron is made aware of big decisions coming from the front office before they happen. Him being in LA with Magic Johnson makes the circumstances no different. These nearly traded players are aware that LeBron was willing to dispense of them. What will do this to this year’s team and longevity? 

 

From July 1stto February 14th, things feel a lot different when contemplating this LA Lakers team. Frankly, things feel kind of gross: they tried to trade nearly 30% of their roster for one guy - it didn’t work out so now they’re supposed to act like everything is normal? It is clear to me that the rest of this season may be more than a little bit of a struggle, particularly with how competitive the Western Conference is. 

Looking ahead for Magic and the Lakers, if this season ends with underwhelming results - that increases the pressure for Magic Johnson to perform well in the summer free agency season. Again, something he promised the city he would do. Who would of thought? Accumulating LeBron James doesn’t solve all of your problems. 

 

Keegan Stewart