Magic Johnson will oversee Lakers trade talks this week

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersNumerous reports signal longtime agent Rob Pelinka is the frontrunner for the job after working extensively with former Lakers guard Kobe Bryant. If the Lakers want to pursue an established general manager, including Golden State’s Bob Myers, Portland’s Neil Olshey or Oklahoma City’s Sam Presti, they would have to receive permission from those respective teams about talking to those candidates.“I’m looking for somebody whose thinking is outside the box and understands the salary cap. The CBA is so important and part of the new NBA,” Johnson said. “If you don’t have an understanding of that, you’ll be in trouble with this organization. That’s important we have relationships with teams, players and agents in this league.”Johnson also outlined a collaborative effort with Lakers coach Luke Walton, Jeanie Buss, scout Ryan West (Jerry West’s son) and scout Jesse Buss and D-Fenders President Joey Buss (Jeanie’s brothers).“Have a work ethic like mine and be super duper smart. I want him to be smarter than me,” Johnson said. “That’s what it’s all about. I’m not going to have every answer. But with Jeanie, myself and that person, Jesse, Joey, Ryan West and his scouting team and Coach Walton, we’ll come up with the right answer. It’s going to be all of us working together and communicating with one another.”Johnson, a five-time NBA champion with the Showtime Lakers, said he also will be with the Lakers when they play in Oklahoma City on Friday. While he plans to watch the game and provide feedback to the team’s coaching staff and players, Johnson admitted a learning curve elsewhere. He has just started learning the intricacies regarding the league’s collective bargaining agreement. But Johnson said he started learning more since the Lakers initially named him as an advisor Feb. 2. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error “I’m a guy who loves to learn,” Johnson said. “I love to read. I love to educate myself on what’s going on. That’s why it’s exciting to build the new Lakers.”The Lakers downplayed the timing of such changes just before Thursday’s trade deadline.The Lakers are 19-39 this season, plummeting out of contention after an encouraging 10-10 start under first-year coach Walton, who got a strong vote of confidence from Jeanie Buss and Johnson. The Lakers have steadily declined from the heights of back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010 and are mired in the worst four-year stretch in franchise history, missing the playoffs in three consecutive years with their three worst records ever. They finished 17-65 last season, a franchise low in the last year of Kobe Bryant’s two-decade run with the franchise.With brother Jim Buss promising in 2014 he would step down as the Lakers’ executive vice president of basketball operations if the team did not become a Western Conference contender in three years, Jeanie Buss made the change sooner. Jim Buss will no longer hold his role, though he will still hold an ownership role with the Lakers.“It was time for a change,” Jeanie Buss said. “Certainly when you look at the timing, people might ask about the offseason. In today’s NBA, this is no offseason. You’re constantly prepared for draft, summer league. There’s always something going on.”Jeanie Buss then added, “It was probably so hard for me to make that I probably waited too long. For that, I apologize to Lakers fans.”Jeanie Buss had no apologies, though, for hiring Johnson. She strongly dismissed any notion that the move showed the Lakers stuck too much in their glorious past to address their uncertain future.Said Jeanie Buss: “This isn’t about trying to go back to Showtime. We’re not trying to turn back the clock. The Lakers have learned how to win in every era.”Said Johnson: “I’m not coming in to tell them old stories about Showtime. It’s about the Lakers having a clear direction and clear strategy in how to build this organization into a championship organization.”This partnership first stemmed when Johnson reached out to express his condolences to Jeanie Buss for her breakup with longtime companion Phil Jackson, the Lakers former coach and New York Knicks’ president. Jeanie Buss and Johnson then had dinner prior to when the Lakers hosted the Denver Nuggets on Jan. 17 at Staples Center. Buss then outlined an advisory role for Johnson pertaining to various business and basketball manners.Since the Lakers named him to that position 19 days ago, Johnson has said in subsequent interviews with USA Today, CBS and ESPN that he would like to “call the shots” and eventually oversee the team’s basketball operations.On Tuesday, Johnson received his wish in what he called his “dream job.”But that dream might include some short-term nightmares on the Lakers’ quest to become a championship contender again.“It’s going to take us a while,” Johnson said. “I don’t want to fool the fans. We’re going to build this thing the right way. It’s not going to be a quick fix. I’m not going to turn this around tomorrow, or I’ll really be Magic.”center_img Not only will Magic Johnson call the shots as the Lakers’ president of basketball operations. Johnson will also be in charge of how the Lakers handle the NBA trade deadline that ends Thursday.In an interview with the Lakers’ cable station, Spectrum SportsNet, Johnson said he had already taken calls from five general managers. Although Johnson generally said he would not divulge details of possible deals, he admitted the “majority” of trade inquiries involved veteran reserve guard Lou Williams. Added Johnson, “If you’re going to get him, it’s going to take a lot to get him.”“Right now it’s great because it’s putting me right in the middle of everything,” Johnson said. “If I had a GM, he would be talking to them and we would work off of a whiteboard and make a good decision not only today, but for tomorrow. That’s what we have to do, make decisions that are good for today and good for tomorrow.”The Lakers plan to hire a general manager to replace Mitch Kupchak, who was fired Tuesday after being part of the team’s front office through 30 years. He oversaw four NBA championships and had the longest current stretch running a front office in the NBA in his 17 years as the team’s general manager.last_img read more