The new regime of the Los Angeles Lakers is already hard at work in trying to get the storied franchise back on track after years of disappointment. Magic Johnson has dedicated himself to his new position as president of basketball operations, and many believe he may help draw free agents to Los Angeles again, but former Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni isn’t buying it.
D’Antoni, who is currently in the running for NBA Coach of the Year with the Houston Rockets, doesn’t believe Magic will be a major factor for free agents deciding to join the Lakers, via Sam Amick of USA Today:
“I don’t see (Johnson’s appeal as) being one of the top factors in players deciding whether LA is (for them),” said D’Antoni. “It’s the players they have, the money you’re getting, the role you’re going to have. I see all that way before (the Magic appeal).”
The actual impact of Johnson calling the shots as president of basketball operations remains to be seen. As D’Antoni predicts, Magic’s presence and sales pitch in meeting with free agents may not be a major factor in the decisions made by players. Magic has been in meetings in the past, most notably with Carmelo Anthony, and it didn’t tilt scales enough to make players want to sign with the Lakers.
Although D’Antoni may ultimately be right, it could also easily go in the other direction. A fresh start with a familiar face associated with success and legacy may be exactly what helps this franchise get back to being a force in the NBA in terms of recruiting free agents.
Only a couple of weeks in his new role with the Lakers, there’s no telling what the future holds for the five-time NBA champion and how he impacts the franchise moving forward. There is no doubt there is a reason for optimism. The Lakers haven’t made the playoffs in for three straight years with seemingly no direction outside of hoping for high draft picks and for a star to emerge among the young core.
Although there is currently a fair amount of optimism with Magic at the helm, he’ll be put to the test this summer with all sorts of possibilities the team can explore with trades, free agency, and through the NBA Draft.