Lakers adviser Magic Johnson hopes to be calling the shots for the Lakers eventually, he said in an interview with USA Today on Thursday.
“Working to call the shots, because it only works that way,’’ Johnson said 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 was hired on Feb. 2 as an advisor to the team who reports to co-owner and president Jeanie Buss. He has not been available to local media, but in an interview with the Lakers official television station, Johnson said he hopes to lend help all over the organization, from the coaches to players to personnel.
In the two days after being hired, Johnson spent time speaking with General Manager Mitch Kupchak, executive vice president of basketball operations and part owner Jim Buss, and point guard D’Angelo Russell. He and Lakers Coach Luke Walton spoke on the phone on Monday, and made plans to have lunch once Walton returned to Los Angeles.
“If I was trying to make decisions on the team and not consult with [Walton], it would never work,’’ Johnson told USA Today. “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?”
After Friday morning’s shootaround, Walton said he hadn’t seen Johnson’s comments, and wanted to read them fully before reacting.
“I guess I need more time to process that,” Walton said.
Johnson spoke while at Pauley Pavilion where he watched UCLA beat Oregon, led by star point guard Lonzo Ball. He said while player evaluation comes easily to him, he has a lot to learn about the salary cap and building a team in the NBA.
And while his role has of yet been somewhat undefined, he told the newspaper that he expects that to be clear by the end of the season.
“Look, Jim knows where we are, Jeanie knows where we are, as a franchise, and so some decisions have to be made,’’ Johnson said. “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.”
Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson played through a sprained thumb. He suffered the injury on Wednesday, but it has not kept him out of practice. … After two strong performances, Lakers rookie Brandon Ingram made one of three field-goal attempts with no assists. It was his third game as the Lakers starting small forward. … The last time the Lakers beat the Bucks in Milwaukee, Walton was playing for the team.