Magic Johnson has publicly said he wants to have a major role within the Los Angeles Lakers now that he's been hired as an adviser to Jeanie Buss.
“Working to call the shots, because it only works that way,’’ Johnson told USA TODAY Sports when asked what he hopes his role with the franchise will be. “Right now I’m advising. I get that. But at the end of the day, then we all got to come together and somebody’s got to say, ‘I’m making the final call,’ all right? And who’s that going to be?
“So, we’ll see what happens.’’
Johnson said the decision on his role rests solely with Jeanie Buss as Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak remain in the front office.
“Look, Jim knows where we are, Jeanie knows where we are, as a franchise, and so some decisions have to be made,’’ Johnson said, adding that he thinks his role will be determined by the end of the season. “I may only be in this role for a short term, I may be here for a long time. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens. I can’t tell you that right now.’’
After a promising start to the 16-17 season, the Lakers have one of the worst records in the NBA.
“It’s going to take time and we know that,’’ said Johnson. “I’m not going to fool nobody and I don’t want the fan base to think, ‘Oh, I’m back, so it’s going to turn around tomorrow.’ It doesn’t work like that.
“You have to make some good decisions, you have to make sure we use the money wisely when we have it for free agents and then we’re going to draft well.’’
During his first week in his new role, Johnson said, he has focused his time learning about the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement, the salary cap and other business-related items.
“I’m going to school, for sure,’’ he said. “Because I know talent. This part (evaluating players) comes easy, watching people play and seeing how they play, whose game hopefully can translate to the next level, those type of things. You’ll find out more as you get to interview them later on, the draft and workouts we have pre-draft. Then you’ll find out a lot more.
"The main part for me is really learning the other part that I didn’t know, and that is to understand the CBA, the salary cap, where we are in terms of the salary cap and who’s a free-agent-to-be. You’ve got a lot of young players so you’ve got to learn when are their contracts coming up, if you can give them the max deal, give them an extension, all those types of things you’ve got to learn. It’s a lot of things, but I’m excited. I’ve been working on all of those things, and then meeting with the staff.’’
Johnson has already spoken with Luke Walton by phone, who he plans to work collaboratively with.
“If I was trying to make decisions on the team and not consult with him, it would never work,’’ Johnson said. “The key is Luke because, OK, what does he have in terms of who’s making him happy? What does he need in terms of coming up on the draft? And even if we have money in free agency, what do we look for to help you as the coach? What do you need? What do you want to look for?
“It’s all coming together and working together, all of us. What do you like about the team you have now and what’s missing from the team? What would you like to see? And then he’ll tell you, ‘Well, I want this.’ OK, we’ll bring in those type of guys. Which one do you feel really fits your system? He’ll say blah-blah-blah, I’ll say blah-blah-blah, OK, let’s go with so-and-so.
“It only works that way.’’