Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson denies he's trying to increase his influence within the organization by speaking out about the team's current struggles. The longtime NBA superstar states he's just trying to help push the franchise back in the right direction.
Baxter Holmes of ESPN LA passed along comments Johnson made during an appearance on "First Take" about the state of the Lakers. He believes Jim Buss hasn't sought enough help since taking over from his father, Jerry.
"Jim is trying to do it himself and trying to prove to everybody that this was the right decision that [his] dad gave [him] the reins," Johnson said. "He's not consulting anybody that can help him achieve his goals and dreams to win an NBA championship."
The five-time NBA champion point guard said general manager Mitch Kupchak deserves more control heading into a crucial offseason. He said if the Lakers aren't able to add a high-profile free agent to go along with a impact rookie in the draft, "it's over for us."
Johnson has talked about the Lakers' draft positioning before. Neil Best of Newsday highlighted remarks from him back in December in which he stated the best option for the team was to lose out in order to improve their lottery position.
"I hope the Lakers lose every game, because if you're going to lose, lose. I'm serious," he said. "If you're going to lose, you have to lose, because you can't be in the middle of the pack. You either have to be great or you have to be bad, to get a good [draft] pick."
One other topic covered in the ESPN report was Kobe Bryant. Another Lakers stalwart, he's watched a second straight season cut short due to injury. Johnson believes No. 24 should put pressure on the team's front office by putting his playing status on the line.
"And I really believe this: [Kobe] should ... say to Jim and them, 'Look, if you don't sign one of these free agents [this offseason], man, I'm just not going to play next year,' " he said.
So it's clear Johnson has a lot of ideas on how to get the Lakers back on track. At the same time, it doesn't seem like the current team ownership group is putting much stock in the public comments being made by one of its former stars.
Los Angeles knows the upcoming offseason is crucial in terms of finding out whether it can make a quick fix or if this is going to become more of a long-term process. Johnson knows what he would do. Only time will tell what route the Lakers go.