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Magic Dropped The Ball


(Magic Johnson Twitter)

Magic Dropped The Ball (Lakers)

In the summer of 2017 Magic Johnson made it clear that the historic Laker franchise was in full rebuild mode. He set realistic expectations that the roster wouldn’t be complete until Summer of 2019. Many sports analyst and writers credit the Sultan of Showtime for bringing the world LA Bron James. ESPN Analyst Clinton Yates said, “He sold himself on one possible thing, and he nailed it.” With all due respect to both Clinton and Magic Johnson, the idea that Magic is directly responsible for bringing LeBron to Los Angeles is laughable. If LeBron has taught us anything during his 15 years in the NBA, it’s that LeBron James does exactly what he wants to and is rarely influenced by anyone outside of his family and friends. There were multiple rumors leading up to free agency that LeBron’s family favored Los Angeles as their next destination. On June 11th, 2018, Gary Payton reported that LeBron James Jr or “Bronny” had already committed to Sierra Canyon (CA) to play with Kenyon Martin’s son and Scottie Pippen’s son.


The Glove also said that “LeBron’s family is going to dictate where he goes.” I think it’s safe to say, even if the deplorable Jim Buss was still calling shots, LeBron would be a Laker today. The King is extremely comfortable walking into any locker room or executive office because he knows the buck stops with him.

Although Magic can’t be credited for bringing LeBron to LA, he can be blamed for Kawhi Leonard not being a Los Angeles Laker and the disaster that is Lonzo Ball. Trading away Timofey Mozgov and unloading his gaudy contract was a clutch move. Unfortunately, they had to give up D’Angelo Russell to do so. Russell led all rookies in 2015-2016 in steals and was the youngest player to reach 130 three-pointers made. He played defense and could get his own shot. Instead of trading Russell on draft night in 2017, Magic should have traded the rights to Lonzo Ball, after he idiotically drafted him before Jayson Tatum and Donovan Mitchell. The terrible decision to draft Lonzo number two overall was compounded by trading away a real scoring and defensive threat. D’Angelo Russell may have had some immature hiccups, but you never questioned his passion or aggressiveness on the court.

Magic was convinced that Lonzo will eventually lead the second coming of the Showtime Lakers. He fell into the hype machine that is LaVar Ball. He was sold on Lonzo being a hometown kid from UCLA, a pass-first unselfish point guard, and his ability to get his teammates involved. The problem is, Lonzo can’t shoot. He isn’t big enough to post up on the wing or on the block like Magic did in his prime. Guys like Lonzo have been an endangered species long before Jason Kidd and Rajon Rondo found their jump shots. The league has evolved to position-less basketball filled with athletic wing defenders, three-point shooters, and two way big men who can space the floor and shoot. It’s sad to see that Magic let his emotions impact the Lakers future.

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Following the current NBA model, Jayson Tatum would have been perfect for the Lakers. That one decision would have opened many different opportunities for LA. For instance, LeBron, Jayson Tatum, Brandon Ingram, and Kyle Kuzma as your core stars to start the 2018 season. Or what about Kawhi, LeBron, and Tatum?! These are now pipe dreams. It has been reported that the Spurs want absolutely nothing to do with Lonzo Ball. If the best ran organization and the best coach doesn’t want you, I’m sorry but that says a lot about your potential. The Spurs want a lot for Kawhi and they should. The Spurs wanted Ingram, Kuzma, Josh Hart, a couple first round picks, and restricted free agent Julius Randle for Kawhi. If Magic had played his cards right and simply drafted Tatum, he would have had enough real assets to acquire Kawhi while keeping one or two of his young stars. I’m confident San Antonio would have accepted Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Kyle Kuzma, two first-round picks, and cash for Kawhi. That would again leave the Lakers core as LeBron, Kawhi, and Jayson Tatum. That is a recipe for an instant Western Conference Finals appearance. Unfortunately for LeBron and Laker Nation, Magic dropped the ball when he drafted the not so big baller.


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