Lakers Notes: Johnson, Russell, D’Antoni

There are plenty of benefits to having an individual of Magic Johnson‘s stature calling the shots for the Lakers, writes Sam Amick of USA Today but there is no consensus on whether or not that will be enough to push the franchise back to its former heights.

If you have a free agent sitdown with a superstar, and Magic Johnson is in the room, that’s going to move the needle as far as getting that guy serious about wanting to come here,” says former player Dell Curry of the Lakers icon. “[…] He built his way up, built his brand once he got here. Being in LA, having Magic and all the doors he can open for you off the floor, that’s even more incentive for superstars to want to come here.

Unlike other players who’ve returned to manage the teams that they played with, Johnson has a high profile in both the basketball and business world. Only Michael Jordan rivals Johnson’s total package but he faces the tougher task of drawing players to small market North Carolina whereas the city of Los Angeles is practically a selling feature in itself.

Still, Johnson’s contributions will eventually be measured in the amount of star players he’s able to recruit to the Lakers, Amick writes. If he airballs as the recent front office has with players like Carmelo Anthony, LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Durant, he’ll be little more than yet another former player learning on the job.

There’s more out of Los Angeles:

  • A recent uptick in D’Angelo Russell‘s production can be traced back to improved work habits coming out of the All-Star Break, writes Mark Medina of the Orange County Register. “Sometimes when you get away for a week, especially when you’re young, you come back rejuvenated a little bit and a little more fresh than when you’re in the dog days leading up to All-Star,” says head coach Luke Walton.
  • It’s hard for anybody to resist the temptations of college basketball this time of year and for Lakers head coach Luke Walton, that’s no different. Don’t think that Walton is already setting his sights ahead on the draft, however, as Mark Medina for the Los Angeles Daily News writes. “We have a whole scouting department that has been watching them all year,” Walton explained. “We got European scouts. When the time comes, we’ll take the appropriate amount of time to sit down and actually watch it from more of a scout’s view.”
  • The fact that the Lakers haven’t gone out of their way to credit former general Mitch Kupchak for his contributions during his three decades with the organization is petty, says Anthony Irwin of SB Nation’s Silver Screen and Roll. The scribe explores Mike D’Antoni‘s recent comments that Kupchak and Jim Buss (also recently dismissed) “were not the problem” during his time in Los Angeles.
View Comments (6)