Magic Johnson is no longer officially a member of the Lakers front office, as he rather famously quit at the Lakers last home game in April 2019, in part so he could continue tweeting freely about the NBA as a whole without getting fined for tampering. However, he is still a very influential figure within the Lakers organization and, by all accounts, is still advising owner Jeanie Buss about organizational decisions (as does Phil Jackson).
As such, when Johnson speaks about the Lakers roster and future, he isn’t just an interested party in the matter, but a plugged in one who has the ear of ownership. So, when Johnson made the rounds on ESPN on Monday morning for Get Up! and later First Take, his commentary on what is in store for the Lakers next season likely didn’t inspire much excitement in fans.
The Russell Westbrook experiment in L.A. has not gone well, to say the least, and ahead of the trade deadline there was considerable buzz that the Lakers wanted to move him but weren’t willing to attach a first rounder to do so. LeBron James then not so subtly hinted that he wasn’t pleased that the Lakers front office wasn’t making all-in moves, and the expectation was this summer would bring another round of Westbrook trade talks.
However, Johnson indicated that won’t be the case in his appearance on Get Up!, saying he expects the Lakers to run it back. “I think they have to bring him back, because you can’t attach a first round pick to Westbrook to try and get him out,” Johnson said.
Magic goes on to say that Westbrook has played better of late and agreed with Anthony Davis that injuries played a role, but that their issues went far beyond that. Johnson says the rest of the roster will have to be retooled around LeBron, Davis, and Westbrook, but also said Russ will need to adjust his game and take more responsibility for his play, while Davis has to figure out how to change things so he stays healthy or the Lakers may have to make a decision to move on from him after next season.
It certainly sounds like the Lakers are at least strongly considering retooling with veterans and role players around their star trio once again next year, but may have bigger changes coming on the horizon beyond Westbrook if things go as poorly as they have this season.