Before the Los Angeles Lakers took on the visiting Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night at Staples Center, news surfaced of Hall of Famer Magic Johnson meeting with team president Jeanie Buss.
Johnson, who previously owned a percentage of the Lakers, has often faced backlash for his harsh criticism of the franchise and co-owner Jim Buss. The specific’s of Johnson’s meeting with Jeanie are unclear, though it fueled speculation of potential changes in the Lakers front office.
In addition to sitting down with Buss, the five-time NBA champion took some time to speak with media about the current state of the franchise and its promising young players like D’Angelo Russell, via Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News:
“D’Angelo is so talented. I just hope he steps into a bigger leadership role,” he said. “We need a leader and he has to step into that role as a point guard. What makes every team great is they have that one guy leading the team.”
During his second season with the Lakers, Russell has been put under the microscope with the expectations being that he’d take the next step forward in his development. Despite flashes of a potentially bright future in Los Angeles, Russell has been inconsistent, leading many to wonder whether he’ll eventually live up to expectations of a second overall pick.
With Kobe Bryant now retired, there’s no undisputed leader on the Lakers roster. As the search continues at the halfway point of the 2016-17 campaign, Julius Randle and Russell appear the most likely candidates to usher the team into a new era.
At this point, Randle has shown more maturity and progress throughout this season in comparison to Russell. The Ohio State product has his moments and at times seems to be the future face of the franchise, but there’s no telling whether he’ll become the leader the Lakers are looking for in the post-Kobe era.