When former Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson re-signed, there were questions about his involvement with them moving forward.
As Johnson’s comments about general manager Rob Pelinka fueled the drama-filled start to the offseason, there were concerns about how it would impact free agency.
With the Lakers somewhat controlling their destiny by trading for a second All-Star player in Anthony Davis, they have an opportunity to add a third heading into June 30.
As all of the attention is on Kawhi Leonard, Johnson revealed details about a potential meeting, according to Broderick Turner and Tania Ganguli of Los Angeles Times:
Johnson said Leonard’s camp reached out to him and requested that the Lakers legend be part of the meeting Leonard will have with the team after the All-Star forward becomes an unrestricted free agent Sunday.
However, Johnson said he should meet with Leonard privately, one on one, and not with Lakers officials to avoid any appearance of impropriety since he’s not authorized to negotiate a contract.
For Johnson, he wants to help the Lakers and is aware of league rules, according to Turner and Ganguli:
“I will help the Lakers anyway that I can,” Johnson told The Times on Friday. “If the NBA says I can only meet with Kawhi and it just has to be me and him and not the Lakers being around, I will do that. I love the Lakers and just want to do what’s best for the Lakers and Jeanie Buss.”
During Johnson’s 2.5 seasons as the team’s president of basketball operations, he was fined twice by the NBA for tampering. By resigning, the 59-year-old has no official position and is able to mention or speak to players again.
After Johnson was a factor in LeBron James signing a four-year, $154 million deal, Leonard’s camp requesting he be a part of the meeting is significant. However, Johnson may have to address Pelinka and the state of the Lakers.
As no one knows what Leonard will ultimately do, Pelinka and the Lakers have at least given themselves a chance. With the Davis trade and re-establishing a max-contract slot, some view them as the ‘real threat’ to sign him now.
Regardless of what happens, the Lakers will still have James and Davis. With two All-Star players and 2-3 role players at the very least, they will be favorites to win it all in the 2020 NBA Finals as there is uncertainty with Kevin Durant’s future with the Golden State Warriors.