Magic Agrees to Help Lakers Recruit Free Agents

Daniel Rapaport —  February 6, 2014

In the newest chapter of the Magic Johnson-Lakers Management relationship saga, Magic told reporters from the LA Times that he’s willing to help the Lakers in their pursuit of free agents this summer.

This comes exactly one week after Magic vowed via Twitter that he’d stop criticizing the purple (blue) and gold. Previously, Magic had been harshly critical of Mike D’Antoni’s rotation and suggested that Jim Buss needs help running the organization.

Magic is a valuable asset to the Lakers if he’s truly invested in helping them recruit. He’s an all-time great (probably top 5 ever), and is the perfect example of an NBA player parlaying his superstar status into a multitude business ventures. He’ll tell free-agent targets that Los Angeles is the perfect place for them because of the franchise’s commitment to winning as well as the vast opportunities that Los Angeles offers.

Let’s hope Kevin Love looks up to Magic Johnson as much as the rest of us do.


Daniel Rapaport


43 responses to Magic Agrees to Help Lakers Recruit Free Agents

  1. Great olive-branch gesture. He mentions that he can help Jim, Mitch and “Mike”. I think as a brand ambassador he would be great – but pls just tell him to lay off twitter.

    Very positive move. Hope the FO gives it serious consideration.

  2. Nick Young is out a minimum of 2 weeks with a non displaced fracture of the patella and bone bruise in his left knee. Lakers injury woes continue. I have never seen an injury season like this for the Lakers.

  3. Nick Young >> non-displaced fracture of his left patella and will be out at least two weeks.

    Which means 5 weeks or more for this season’s team.

  4. Magic did a smart thing here, in part I’m guessing because his criticisms were starting to look like sour grapes from a guy jockeying for some sort of official role.

    Let’s see if Jim (or Jim via Mitch) does the smart thing and publicly embraces this olive branch (that’s what MannyP calls it, and I agree) by extending one of their own. Some kinda statement of the obvious — that having one of the all-time great Lakers helping recruit would be an honor, yadda yadda, and that they look forward to having him help.

    However it all plays out in actuality, right now this is a P.R. dance and it’s the Lakers’ turn to lead. Let’s hope they don’t goof it up.

  5. Shawne Williams back on a 10 day contract. Will play Fri. Look for our team defense and rebounding to improve.

  6. Jump in the pool, the water’s warm… yeah, i know i was all over ESPN saying it was cold, but you know, I’m a funny guy…. no it’s warm, really… no, not quite as a warm as when I was the lifeguard, but still warm enough….

  7. A few weeks (?) ago rr made a comment re the Lakers’ training staff that I disagreed with. However, this non-stop injury bullet train is making me rethink my position. I’m not saying that a different training staff would have avoided broken bones, but you have to wonder what is going on with all of these strained muscles, re-injuries and slow recovery times.

    I’m not saying fire Gary Vitti, but I am saying that maybe more help is needed, including perhaps a different strength/conditioning approach.

  8. A few weeks (?) ago rr made a comment re the Lakers’ training staff that I disagreed with.

    That’s fine, but all I really said was “Management might want to take a look at the training and medical staffs.”

    Just to reiterate: Alex McKechnie was on the staff and was a guy Jim did not re-up upon taking over. McKechnie now works for Toronto, and Phil has mentioned this a couple of times, and a couple of other people in key spots are new.

    There has been a bit of low-level buzz out there that the Lakers are behind the times in terms of stat analysis and injury prevention, including a hit piece on True Hoop after DH12 bailed. Kevin Pelton stated a few years ago that the Lakers make less use of advanced stats than any team in the NBA.

    Regardless of what the reality is, when the team is 17-32 and can’t keep nine guys healthy, I don’t think it is out of line to suggest that some re-evaluation on these fronts might be in order.

  9. Thank you Magic!

    glad Shawne´s back

  10. ugh. Love Magic, but wish he would not do all this stuff through the press. Season is bad enough without all this drama. What’s he going to say to LBJ now anyways? “Come play in LA (even though I hate the coach and have no power to make changes)!”

  11. Maybe Shawn Williams had a good +\- when he was with us before, or we had a better win-loss record before he left.

    But all I remember was wondering why he was on the floor ahead of Kaman and Hill. And that his personal numbers were unimpressive at best.
    Williams’ return also signals a return to the abyss for Kaman.

    This is probably the reason Harris wasn’t retained. I can almost hear Dantoni petitioning the FO for Williams’ return and promising improved results.

    IMO Harris is the better basketball player.
    Harris looked pretty good to me in the brief time he was allotted to show off his skills.

    If this is how organizational tanking manifests itself, it’s depressing.

    The worst part is, Dantoni has management convinced that his system will work.
    Last night’s gutty and entertaining win is proof that when we shoot “lights out” from 3-point land, we can compete.

    If I were Kaman I’d be on the phone with my agent every day, requesting a one way ticket on the first bus, plane or train out of town.

  12. … this non-stop injury bullet train …


    Is MDA overusing his players? Nash is old; Kobe not young; but Swaggy, Farmar, et al, ad naseum ?

  13. It’s the curse of Dwight Howard( see Orlando)

  14. Too late, Magic. You’ve spent the last 4 years crushing the Lakers franchise and gargling LeBron down your throat. I don’t think any player is going to fall for it.

  15. Hard to be accused at this point of overusing players when you only have 7-8 guys to play. Gotta remember – starters in NBA usally play 25-35 mins (stars more of course) and are accustomed and used to that -like wise guys off the bench play 15-20/10-15/2-10, none etc…. and thats what they train and acclimate their bodies to play hard for that amount of time they’re on the flr. but now take a 10-15 min guy and play him repeatedly 25-30 mins a game mid season when he’s not acclimated to that and its not unreasonable to expect a possible increase in injuries due to wear/tear/fatigue – which is just really an expected side effect of having a decimated team, not much the coach can do about it. That and the seemingly endless bad luck w sprains, broken bones, popped eardrums etc… lol. It’s pretty much laughable right now. Like the fact that they still play hard and try – and they’re obviously enjoying eachother as a team at least. They haven’t quit on the coach or each other like Cleveland.

  16. Unbelievable season. We need to call the Red Cross. Can I donate bone marrow, or platelets or some other vital fluid? This team is bivouacked in the Marne. I hope we are leeching all the bad luck out from the team and can start over with a high pick and a few good seasons out of Kobe.

    Where could I look up games lost to injury in an NBA season. We are getting close to the record, right?

    Love seeing Shawn Williams back. Great to see Magic back in the fold. I wonder if his new position with the Lakers is tied to his being part of the group that bought the Sparks.

  17. Reading a lot of chatter about Exum being very high on
    the Lakers and Kobe. Its a completely uncertain thing but I would really like to see him in a Lakers uniform. I want to see the Lakers pick up guys not only who can play but also really want to be in a Laker uniform. One of the reasons Young going down is a bummer. he has really embraced being a Laker even in a really lackluster season. Get well Young and hope ur dreams come true Exum.

  18. Breaking News!

    Two Lakers girls suffer finger injuries while having manicure.

    Out 2 weeks. .

  19. I think rr’s point is both moderate and valid. When something goes wrong on the court, in X’s and O’s, in player acquisition and development, teams re-evaluate their front office and coaching. On the injury front, there is a large factor of randomness in any physical sport, and Vitti has a track record of success. With that said, medicine and the science behind exercise physiology and training have advanced just as much as the nuanced and analytical way we examine the actual game. It’s fair to question and objectively evaluate everything in regards to the health of this team, especially when it’s multiple young players on the injury shelf. And even if our training staff turns out to be league average, it’s fair to question why they can’t improve. Phoenix’s staff is so much more successful than other training staffs, and it’s a fair question to ask why those methods aren’t being implemented more widely around the league.

  20. Snoop nailed it.

  21. Players aren’t shooting freethrows underhanded either.

  22. Maybe Williams somewhat addresses the immediate need for bigs because of Gasol’s 2 week or so absence but all I recall is Shawne clanking shots and looking like he should be playing overseas. Is Hill expected to be out a significant amount of time (because D’antoni’s fixation with his guys is head spinning)? I’d much rather the Lakers had retained Harris for the year and found someone to release Kaman from purgatory. That would get the roster back down to 14. I guess it could still happen but I’m not too concerned if it doesn’t. Harris might have escaped injury with that second 10-day contract’s expiration.

    Farmar is injury prone. He couldn’t stay healthy during his first stint and he’s snake-bitten like everyone else this year. Blake had finally started earning part of that obscene contract (years) but he can’t stay healthy. I was looking forward once he turned on the jets earlier this year to get some sucker to trade for him. Talking about Nash might jostle his nerve root irritation so I won’t speculate about him.

    Magic was my favorite player for years and it doesn’t even seem strange to type “was”… which is strange. It’s just that he seems to place himself in a weird position that isn’t much removed from fans with his outbursts. Maybe unfairly, I kind of want my old school players to shut up and not come off as crotchety bastards. I don’t know how much young dudes admire his opinion when it comes to team shopping but at this rate I don’t know what can stop this four year descent into the abyss.

  23. Just a thought that came up with this discussion about injuries and advances in treatment/training. I remember hearing or reading that the Spurs monitor their players during practices and log their heart rate and other biometrics. Supposedly they use this data to monitor fitness but also to plot out a player’s usage during a game. It seems they can better recognize fatigue and other factors that diminish productivity. It made me wonder if they also use these metrics to plot out when their players will take a strategic DNP. Did anyone else read about this. If so, do you recall where. My Google searches didn’t nab me any links.

  24. Yea but I bet the Spurs guys can’t train horses.

  25. Just wondering . . . If another one of our guards goes down, could we get Manny back again?

  26. Yes Manny is back with d-Fenders.

  27. @arliepro, assuming that Ko is right and Manny is back w/ the d-fenders (i’m too lazy to look it up), then yes, we could get Manny back again, but we would have to sign him for the rest of the season, since I believe a player may only be signed to two 10-day contracts

  28. Well, more than Gary Vitti himself, the strength and conditioning coach must be questioned. It’s simply not normal and it’s a big coincidence that these kind of things happen after Jimmy boy made all those changes in key places of the organization…

    So, while I don’t believe in bashing the FO because we are not aware of everything that’s happening backstage, some facts cannot be disputed:

    – We have failed to attract FA’s (or retain them) as we once did. Surely the times are different and the CBA restricts our ability to outspend everyone else, but one must adapt and keep up with times;
    – Our players have been getting injured way too often and for longer periods of time than expected. Again, if we have more injuries than other teams when the roster goes through significant changes then we’re either incredibly unlucky or something’s wrong with strength and conditioning as well as the medical department.
    – We’ve hired two really bad coaches in a row. No other way to put it. Those were really bad mistakes.
    – There’s the word that we don’t use analytics as well as other teams. I don’t think that you should run a franchise based on numbers only. This is not baseball. However, you must look at the numbers to make you second guess some of your decisions (JVG said it way more eloquently than I could have ever say).

    So, while I agree that the veto had some influence as well as Nash’s broken leg, it is the FO job to take a closer look at those things. Specially since they happened after Jimmy boy’s handpicked staff was put in keyplaces within the organization. So, why isn’t the FO wondering why we’re not an attractive FA destination despite all the obvious advantages? Why hasn’t the FO addressed the injury situation properly instead of burying their head in the sand and just call D-Leaguers up to fill the gaps (and worst of all, letting those same D-Leaguers go elsewhere and become productive NBA players)? Why hiring those two specific coaches when there were better coaching options available? And why can’t we have one or two numbers guys running stats the proper way and feeding that info to the coach and the GM? Isn’t the FO to blame?

  29. “BLOAT” (Best Laker Of All Time) Magic Johnson has offered his help to Jimmy “I can do this all by myself” Buss. Let’s see if he’s smart enough to accept this offer after turning down his sister’s earlier.

    The light at the end of the tunnel has just been turned on.

  30. Why does Magic have to ‘announce’ that he’s willing to help, or going to help?

    Couldn’t he just help the Lakers without making a show of it?

    And why hasn’t he already been acting as a Laker ambassador all this time?

    It’s not like the Lakers and the Buss family didn’t pay him millions of dollars already and help make him an international figure.

  31. Bigcity i would love a double whammy of Magic and Phil making it rain with all those rings lol. But im glad that instead of senseless critisism he offer his help. We will see

  32. Renato: I believe you said you were in Europe. You must be getting an awesome satellite feed of our games and of all Laker related news, because your view of the FO is 100% crystal clear and on target.
    Magic: I have obviously been calling for this and any involvement from our legends is a good thing. So – Magic has reached out (albeit after some less than kind words). Let’s see what we do with that. With regard to the message. Yes it might sound a little hypocritical. That is unless there are “other” changes pending.

  33. These are such non-stories to me, only to fill time on ESPN. NBA players make their decisions 95 percent on who’s going to pay the most money and maybe – MAYBE – 5 percent on ancillary factors (desirability of the city, potential to benefit financially from major media markets, and rarest of all, likelihood of contributing at their specific position and potential to win). For these last two elements, they have agents, managers and lawyers.

    A call from Magic might be a nice thing to receive in the morning – I know I’d like one – but to think he could say anything at all actually to affect which player goes where is nonsense. This is true for a journeyman, but even more true for a superstar, where the financial engines behind him are that much more strategic and ruthless.

  34. “NBA players make their decisions 95 percent on who’s going to pay the most money ” So I guess we hit the lucky 5% with regard to Dwight?

  35. Regarding Magic – He’s not an employee/owner so how can he really ‘help’? As a result of his ripping the organization for so long what weight would his ‘help’ carry? In my estimation Magic will need to spend some time being supportive of the team both in public and private in order for his offer makes a real difference.

    Regarding Training and Strength/Conditioning: The league wide respect of what the Phoenix staff has been doing has been going on for a few years now. If every team was not benchmarking against their best practices, including the Lakers, then shame on them.

    Regarding using Analytics: This is all on Jim. For him to assume that he could carry on his dad’s legacy by simply doing the same things as him is ridiculous. He is not Dr. Buss. If the Lakers are to be successful Jim needs to lead the team in a new direction. Embracing Statistical Analysis would be a great step in moving the organization forward and allow him to put his own stamp on the Laker’s future.

    The other way Jim can ‘open the door’ and let fresh air in is to elevate Mitch to President and bring in another smart mind to help out with the GM duties. There are a number of young bright minds on existing FO staffs. Time to cherry pick the best of them to join our FO.

  36. Did anyone catch Luol Deng’s comment about Mike Brown not being ‘prepared’ to be an NBA coach. Of course, this was the coach Jim Buss picked to be the caretaker of the Lakers.

  37. Robert:

    That’s what I think, yes. Not just the lucky 5%, but the lucky .01%. You can disagree, but by all accounts DH is an oddball who is surrounded by all kinds of ‘advisors’ and who is unbelievably capricious. Remember the whole thing about announcing he was leaving Orlando, then changing his mind and extending, then changing his mind again and demanding a trade. Then it was NY, Chicago, Brooklyn, LA….

    Again, you might see it differently but I think DH *is* a singular case– a freakshow melange of ego, machievellianism, confusion, low self-esteem, desire to please others, concern for his image and narrative…. Can you think of another situation in NBA history that played out like Dwight’s?

    Or put it this way: do you think a call from Magic would have changed Dwight’s mind?

  38. lil pau: 95% is pretty much spot on.

    Robert: Sadly for Laker fans, all the signs were there that manchild Dwight would fall into that 5%.
    Jimmy thought he could roll the dice like Pops and come up big. . . . I think this is his most damning decision thus far. To get nothing for Dwight was as dumb as Dwight appears to be.

  39. I think Magic is just adjusting to not being on TV and missing the attention. He’ll quiet down again on the Laker front once baseball season starts.

  40. Using the Robert format:

    FAs: The very top-level (top 20 or so) guys are going to get the money regardless, so they are probably going to choose based on where they think they can win–right now. James, Wade, Bosh. Durant stayed in OKC–title contenders. Paul. Rose. Duncan 2001. Kobe stayed here in part back in 2005 because he thought Old Man Buss and Mitch could get the team back on top, but when it was taking too long, he started to complain–loudly. Love is going to get a max deal, so I think it safe to assume that he will sign his next deal with an org that he thinks can contend immediately upon his arrival. Guys like Kyle Lowry–yes, it will mostly be the money.

    DH12: Howard bailed in part because he didn’t like Kobe, Buss and MDA, but as Howard said himself, he is not young anymore by NBA standards (29 in December) and he wanted to win. He thought that Houston gave him a better shot to win immediately than the Lakers did, and he was right. I posted a list in preseason of the W-L records of teams the year before and the two years after they lost a top-level center without significant compensation. Conceding that Howard is not Shaq or Wilt or Kareem, and conceding that there are other factors, the 2014 Lakers are another data point on that list: if you lose a franchise center for nothing or little, your record is probably going to drop off. A lot. Period. So, freak show melange or no, the Lakers miss Howard and they will keep missing Howard until they get a big man who is actually good on both sides of the ball.

    Magic: One thing the Lakers are selling is their history. Will his help be a deciding factor in landing FAs ? Very doubtful. But he is a living legend, a nice guy with a lot of charisma, and a guy who knows the city and what it is like to play here, and Jim Buss is not known as an outgoing sales-pitch kind of guy. I am not seeing a downside here at this point.

    And, Jim Buss is 0-for-1 in A-list FA recruiting.

  41. Matt: Nice post.

    Magic could be an asset for the organization but it will take time for him to build up credibility so that his actions/words have meaning.

    Couldn’t agree more regarding Jim Buss. I think its been said before that if Jim does not have the respect of top tier players, their agents or league FO personnel then as the leader of the Lakers he needs to step back as opposed to forward. He doen’t have to step out but he needs to make room for another individual to be the face of the organization.

    In other words the best way for Jim to lead is by putting smart people in key positions.

  42. I’m still fine with Dwight Coward leaving …

  43. I’m still fine with Dwight Coward leaving …

    Well, I am glad that you are fine. Wish the team could say the same.