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Jeanie Buss is relying on Magic Johnson to salvage the Lakers' season

Magic Johnson & Jeanie Buss

Buss admitted that she's still contacting Johnson, who resigned in 2019 as team president

Midway into the season, the Los Angeles Lakers are nowhere near the top of the Western Conference standings. While they could still make it to the playoffs, the Lakers are a premier organization whose only intent is to win. Not raising the Larry O'Brien trophy at the end of the season is considered a failed campaign.

Buss still trusts Magic

With these realities in mind, the Lakers front office is scouring for ways to squeeze as many victories as possible. For vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka, this involves jumping on opportunities in the player market. For controlling owner and president Jeanie Buss, this consists of gauging Pelinka's moves vis-a-vis the team's finances and apparently, calling Laker legend Magic Johson for advice.

In an interview with The Athletic, Buss admitted that she's still contacting Johnson, who resigned in 2019 as team president. It was a controversial fallout, with Johnson admitting he was not happy with his position. He also had tiffs with Pelinka, whom he called a "backstabber." Buss clarified that Johnson is not calling the shots. You have to have an official designation to do that. Nonetheless, she trusts in Johnson's basketball instincts, firmly believing it could still salvage the Lakers' lackluster season.

“To me, he’s still working with us. In terms of an official capacity, in the NBA, you have to be very clear as to who can negotiate on your behalf and who can’t. So he doesn’t have that official designation. But in terms of his support, his wisdom, his insight, I freely call on him as needed.” 

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“I just sat down with him. and I said, ‘Should I be concerned? What are you seeing?’ And he just talked about, you know, the injuries and that the team hadn’t had a chance to be together. … So, you know, he’s very calm and insightful. And it, you know, I appreciate his seeing the big picture instead of reacting to every game,” Buss said.

The Lakers need to keep LeBron happy

Johnson did make fair points. After they won the title, injuries have been plaguing the Lakers roster for the past two seasons. While injuries are a part of the game, one should consider the potential of a healthy roster. Do all players complement each other? Is the coach making the right line-up decisions? These questions are challenging — both at face value and when parsed out. Buss knows that she alone cannot formulate the answers to these questions. It takes a basketball savant in Magic Johnson to develop a firm and accurate solution.

From the looks of it, Buss has swept all the controversies involving Johnson's tenure as team president before. Note that the Lakers failed to make the postseason during Magic's tenure. Talks on acquiring Anthony Davis did not go anywhere, too. It was Pelinka who sealed the deal. There were also rumors of Johnson not regularly showing up to the office as an executive should. 

It would be interesting to know what Johnson exactly told her. Is there still hope for the Lakers to win it all? Are the injuries really to blame? Or should the Lakers just wrap this season up and prepare for the next?

Buss and crew need to be wary of the time, whatever the case may be. LeBron James will be in the final year of his contract next season. He'll also turn 38-years-old in December 2023. If this is indeed James' final season before retiring, the Lakers cannot just go through the motions. They need to win at least one more for the King. 

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