We have already discussed Magic Johnson’s hiring as an advisor to Jeanie Buss at length, offering some thoughts on how it might impact Jim Buss’ job as well as why I am taking a more wait and see approach to how his role actually plays out before I make any lasting judgments.

One of the under-discussed aspects of Magic’s hire, however, is what might happen to Mitch Kupchak. I will get this out of the way up front — I like Mitch. I think, in the aggregate, he’s been good at his job as General Manager. I think he has a good eye for talent and roster construction while also being quite good at saying a lot without saying anything at all (which is important for a guy in his position when speaking publicly or making on the record comments).

That said, how I feel about Kupchak doesn’t matter. What does matter is how Jeanie Buss and, now that he’s on board in his new role, Magic feels about him. And, according to a report from ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, their opinions may not be as clear cut as mine:

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So, there’s a lot that happened in this game and whenever (or at least pretty often when) that’s the case I’m going to go to a bullet point recap. Sorry, I’m a blogger so I love bullet points. If you want the pure numbers, though, the Lakers beat the Knicks 121-117 and snapped a 12 game road losing streak in the process. They also got their 1st win of this five game roadie and with two games left they could actually have a winning record on the trip. I know, I’m getting ahead of myself.

On to the bullets…

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The Lakers return to action after two days off, facing off against the Knicks in the 3rd of their five game Grammy road trip. The team is 0-2 so far, losing a competitive game against the Wizards on Thursday then a hard fought game against the Celtics a night later. The game against the C’s saw the Lakers win every quarter but the 2nd, but the 12 point defeat in that period was too much to overcome.

After the game, Luke Walton harped on the team’s poor play in those 2nd 12 minutes, bringing up one of his favorite critiques of his team: “In the second quarter as a team, I thought we got selfish. We stopped moving the ball, we stopped trusting each other. Because of it, we’re not making shots and then our defense gets lazy.” Again, this isn’t new and, I think, reflects what Walton really values philosophically. He wants his team to play together, to move the ball, to play unselfishly. He believes that when you play this way, everyone will feel involved offensively and this will translate to defensive engagement too.

One could argue whether or not this is actually true, but I don’t think the Lakers, as a whole, really give these ideals an opportunity for extended stretches. I have commented on this before, but they have only so many natural ball movers on this team. Beyond that, they have guys whose natural games are to want the ball either to shoot it right away or to find a way to do something with it so they eventually can shoot it. When you look at who typically plays in the 2nd quarter, you’ll no doubt make the connection as to why some might rank higher on my list of veterans the team should explore trading.

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Let’s Make a Deal…

Darius Soriano —  February 4, 2017 — 28 Comments

First, a confession: I am an NBA Trade Machine addict. I fiddle around on ESPN’s tool more than I should, always trying to find a way to make the Lakers’ roster better without giving up players I like. Considering my fondness for roster construction and the concept of team building, maybe this isn’t a big surprise. Or, maybe because we still outlaw outright trade speculation in the comments of this site, it is.

Anyways, as someone who likes thinking up trades and someone who is invested in the Lakers’ success has often meant whatever ideas I have wither on the vine. I mean, the Lakers rarely make deals in general and, less frequent, make them in-season. There was that flurry of action on 2012 that saw the team trade Derek Fisher and Luke Walton in separate deals which brought back Ramon Sessions and Jordan Hill, but after that I have trouble remembering a deal the team made before the February deadline.

I say all of this as a reminder that it’s pretty unlikely the Lakers make a trade before the February 23rd deadline. History tells us they won’t for whatever reason. Maybe they value their young players too highly. Maybe the offers teams will make for their expendable veterans either don’t include enough value or are hampered with too much excess the team doesn’t want to take one. Or maybe nothing materializes with enough time left to actually work out the details. As I said on the most recent Laker Film Room podcast, it takes two teams to make a trade and that often complicates things.

Now that I’ve listed all those caveats, I think the Lakers need to make a deal (or more) in the next couple of weeks. Or, maybe better said, I’d like them to.

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The Lakers are on the 2nd night of a back to back after a tough, but competitive loss to the Wizards on Thursday. In many ways that game reminded me of the game against the Pacers in Indiana earlier this year. In that game, the Lakers played well enough to win, but saw Paul George play to his all-star status by sinking shots down the stretch to pull out the win. In Washington, George’s role was played by John Wall who sunk several key jumpers in the closing minutes to fend off a Lakers team that battled back from a large deficit to put themselves in position to win.

The fact the Lakers couldn’t close isn’t a surprise, even if it is somewhat disappointing. The team didn’t do enough to put themselves in position, committing 20 turnovers and not showing enough defensive discipline earlier in the game when the Wizards started to pull away. Again, disappointing even if, at this stage of the season and with their level of play what it’s been, not surprising.

Heading into Boston, then, the Lakers have some things to feel good about even if their chances of winning this game are about the same (if not worse) than what they were Thursday. Boston is one of the better teams in the East and, though flawed, has a slew of really good players and another all-star PG who can do a ton of damage offensively in Isaiah Thomas. Slowing the diminutive PG becomes priority #1, but just like with Wall it is easier said than done.

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In the latest episode of the Laker Film Room podcast, Pete and I discuss the Lakers bringing on Magic Johnson as advisor to Jeanie Buss, how this may spell the demise of Jim Buss, and how it all impacts the construction plan of the next great Lakers’ team.

Click through to listen.

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The Lakers are starting their yearly trek to the east coast while the Grammy’s are being prepared for in Los Angeles. The team will begin its trip in Washington and will conclude in Milwaukee with stops in Boston, New York, and Detroit in between. They will not return home for 8 days when they face the Kings on the 10th of February.

That’s the bad news. The Lakers are nearly .500 at home, posting a 12-13 record for the season. They are, however, only 5-21 on the road. That’s not shocking for a young team who has been bad in recent years. That said, lack of being surprised does not equal it being something that can be lived with. For the long term trajectory of the team, they must find a way to snare some wins in opponents’ buildings.

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Los Angeles Lakers co-owner Jeanie Buss met with Hall of Famer and former Lakers point guard Magic Johnson on Tuesday night, sources with knowledge of the meeting told ESPN.

The exact nature of the meeting was not immediately clear, but sources said Buss has been soliciting opinions on the direction the franchise should take moving forward, after three straight losing seasons and possibly a fourth, with the Lakers already having lost 31 games this season.

The above is from a piece from ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne back in mid January. As Shelburne noted (and I have heard similar things), Jeanie Buss has been talking to folks about the direction of the Lakers and Magic, who is “like a brother” to her, is a natural sounding board for such discussions.

Well, it turns out, that discussion may have been more than just a friendly conversation and more like a precursor to what will now be a true working relationship. Because today it was announced that the Lakers have hired Magic to an advisory position. From the team’s press release:

The Los Angeles Lakers today announced that Earvin “Magic” Johnson will return to the Lakers to assist Jeanie Buss in all areas of basketball and business as an advisor…

…Johnson’s duties will include, but not be limited to, advising ownership on all business and basketball matters, collaborating with coaches, evaluating and mentoring players, assessing future franchise needs, and helping ownership to determine the best path for growth and success. Johnson will spend time at Lakers offices in El Segundo and will report directly to Jeanie Buss.

That sound you hear is Jim Buss’ job security taking nose dive.

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