Magic Johnson

Earvin "Magic" Johnson says he has recruited for the Lakers in the past. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Earvin "Magic" Johnson said Wednesday that he's willing to do whatever he can to turn the Lakers into a championship-caliber team, including doing some grassroots recruiting.

"I've done that in the past," Johnson told the Los Angeles Times. "I told [General Manager] Mitch Kupchak that last week. First they have to make up their mind on who they want, and then they tell me, just like I recruited Ron Artest, I talked to Lamar Odom."

Johnson pointed out that he has always had a special touch when mediating negotiations between players and Lakers' brass.

"I talked to [late Lakers' owner] Dr. [Jerry] Buss when Lamar and Dr. Buss were having that problem for a minute there," Johnson said, referring to frosty negotiations between the two sides in 2009. "I was able to calm everybody down and make sure they understood how valuable Lamar was, and then Dr. Buss signed him back.

"I've been in a lot of different things with the Lakers, but it's up to them -- [owner] Jim [Buss], Mitch [Kupchak], Coach [Mike] D'Antoni to decide who they want. Once they make their decision, they say, 'Hey, Earvin, can you put in a call to so and so."

The Lakers need all of the help they can get right about now.

They are 3-19 since Dec. 21 and have lost seven consecutive games, their worst streak since March 2007.

Johnson said the Lakers need to change some pieces, adding that he could be in favor of the team trading Pau Gasol.

"If the Lakers can get a No. 1 draft pick for Pau, they should trade him because the problem is you're going to lose him next summer anyway."

Johnson also maintained his earlier position that Kobe Bryant, who is rehabilitating an injured left knee, should sit out for the remainder of the season.

"I'm always in the belief when you come back and then you get hurt again, to make sure you heal your body all the way," he said. "I want him to stay out, but I know that's not who he is. But I definitely want him to stay out to get his body healthy and strong to get ready to go for a championship next season."

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