Former Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson helped put them in position to land a second All-Star player in 2019 NBA free agency.
Players such as Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard, and Kemba Walker are all available this offseason and the team will be hoping to add one of them.
Of course, Johnson is no longer part of the front office after stepping down from his position, and he went into plenty of detail as to why he did so, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have thoughts on those potential free agents and who could ultimately join he Lakers.
During an appearance on ESPN’s First Take, Johnson named Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving as the two players he would target, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN:
“With speculation that KD [Kevin Durant] is going somewhere else… speculation that he is going to New York… I love Kevin,” Johnson said. “Or he might stay in Golden State. I would say Kawhi [Leonard] and Kyrie [Irving] are the two guys, one of those two.”
Without a doubt, the Lakers organization and fanbase would be ecstatic should they be able to land either one of Leonard or Irving. Each would represent the second All-Star player the Lakers have been looking for to pair with LeBron James and put them back in championship contention immediately.
Leonard has re-established himself as one of the best players during the 2018-19 NBA season. He is one of the best two-way players the league has ever seen and has stepped his game up even more in the 2019 NBA playoffs as he has the Toronto Raptors on the brink of the 2019 NBA Finals. His buzzer-beater in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals will go down as one of the most memorable in playoff history.
Irving didn’t have quite the playoff success that he and the Boston Celtics had hoped for this season, getting knocked out by the Milwaukee Bucks in the semifinals, but he remains one of the NBA’s best point guards. Of course, Irving already has plenty of experience playing and winning with James so perhaps reuniting would be best for both.
Johnson naming Irving and Leonard as his favorites doesn’t change the reports that have been around all season, however. Irving still seems most likely to land with the New York Knicks while Leonard coming to Los Angeles would mean he’s joining the Clippers according to most reports.
Regardless, the Lakers will push hard to improve the team in any way they can be it free agency, trades, or the 2019 NBA Draft. If it ends up in them landing Irving or Leonard, it will be a massive success amid all of the criticism.