The Los Angeles Lakers are entering unfamiliar territory. An uncertain future lies ahead for the storied NBA franchise as they embark on the first season without Kobe Bryant in two decades. Although no one knows what to expect or how long it will take to turn things around in Los Angeles, Lakers legend Magic Johnson believes the team has built a good foundation of young talent.
Johnson recently sat down with Kelli Tennant of Spectrum SportsNet for a ‘Connected With’ interview and talked about the direction of his former team.
“Do we have some young pieces to build on? Yes. I think D’Angelo [Russell] will grow. I think that last season, and what happened, probably helped him to mature as a young man. And also too, we have to remember he was only 19 years old, so you know his body will get bigger and stronger. I think we’re really good at the backcourt position.”
Magic also believes Russell and company know it’s their time to shine with Kobe walking away from the game.
“Last year, it was only about Kobe [Bryant]. This year, those guys know that ‘okay, it’s our team now.'”
The five-time NBA champion also praised the hiring of Luke Walton. Magic thinks Walton’s championship experience both as a player and a coach and his ability to relate to the players of this generation will help guide this team moving forward.
“Luke [Walton] was the perfect coach because he’s won championships both as a player and as a coach, but he’s a hip, cool guy. They needed somebody they could talk to, relate to the players. And so, I can’t wait to see all the guys together, and coming together, and making it exciting to watch the Lakers.”
After getting his first win as Lakers head coach in the team’s first preseason game on Tuesday, Walton and company will head to the Staples Center on Friday to host the Denver Nuggets. The Lakers will then play the Nuggets one more time on Sunday in Ontario at Citizens Bank Arena before heading back to Staples on Tuesday to take on Damian Lillard’s Portland Trail Blazers.
Tennant’s ‘Connected With’ interview with Magic will be aired in it’s entirety on Sun. Oct. 9 at 4:30 p.m. on Spectrum SportsNet.