The Los Angeles Lakers have not had much success on the free agent market lately. Players like Carmelo Anthony, LaMarcus Aldridge, DeAndre Jordan, and many others have decided to sign elsewhere. Kevin Durant wouldn’t even meet with them.
When the Lakers finally did land free agents, they paid Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov a combined $136 million over the next four years, and both are now on coach Luke Walton’s bench. However, with a new President of Basketball Operations in Magic Johnson, the hope is that their luck will change. After all, Johnson does appear to be the ideal person to woo high-level stars.
Dell Curry, the former NBA sharpshooter and father of NBA players Stephen and Seth, told Sam Amick of USA Today that he believe Johnson can close the deal when meeting with free agents:
“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 […] LA is LA already, but if you have Magic Johnson pushing for you to come here, it’s going to make you think.”
Of course, the Lakers hope free agents will come based on the talent on the team and their ability to contend for championships, but Curry also believes that Johnson’s success away from basketball will be a factor:
“It’s success, man. That’s what every player wants on and off the floor, and he’s the epitome of it. 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.”
The strength of the Lakers roster will almost certainly be the prime concern for most major free agents on the market but as the team rebuilds and starts to rise in the rankings, Johnson’s allure could very well become a factor.
The Lakers still have a long road to travel before they can get back to their winning ways, but if Johnson can land a major free agent, the journey will become much shorter.