After Magic Johnson officially rejoined the Lakers last week, the team was quick to downplay any potential tension it might cause in the front office, stressing that the Hall-of-Famer would be serving in an advisory role on basketball operations and business matters. However, Johnson revealed in a conversation with Josh Peter of USA Today that he may have larger aspirations.
“Working to call the shots, because it only works that way,” Johnson said when asked what he hopes his role with the team will be. “Right now I’m advising. I get that. But at the end of the day, then we all got to come together and somebody’s got to say, ‘I’m making the final call,’ all right? And who’s that going to be? … So, we’ll see what happens.”
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and executive VP of basketball operations Jim Buss have made the personnel decisions in Los Angeles for the last several years. However, at least one recent report has been critical of the job Kupchak has done in free agency, and Buss vowed during the 2013/14 season that he’d step down in three or four years if the Lakers hadn’t developed into a title contender by that point.
With Johnson now entering that mix, it remains to be seen whether all three men will still be involved in basketball decisions during the coming offseason, and which of them will have the final say on roster moves. In comments to Peter, Johnson suggested that the decision on his role rests with owner Jeanie Buss, adding that he expects that decision to be made by the end of the season. In the meantime, the former Lakers star is hitting the books to brush up on the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement and salary cap.
“I’m going to school, for sure,” Johnson said. “Because I know talent. This part (evaluating players) comes easy, watching people play and seeing how they play, whose game hopefully can translate to the next level, those type of things. You’ll find out more as you get to interview them later on, the draft and workouts we have pre-draft. Then you’ll find out a lot more.
“The main part for me is really learning the other part that I didn’t know, and that is to understand the CBA, the salary cap, where we are in terms of the salary cap and who’s a free-agent-to-be. You’ve got a lot of young players so you’ve got to learn when are their contracts coming up, if you can give them the max deal, give them an extension, all those types of things you’ve got to learn. It’s a lot of things, but I’m excited.”