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Magic Johnson Discusses Role with Lakers, Expectations and More

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistFebruary 10, 2017

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 30:  Magic Johnson Retired NBA Player attends Game Two of the Semifinals during the 2016 WNBA Playoffs against the Chicago Sky vs the Los Angeles Sparks at Staples Center on September 30, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images)
Leon Bennett/Getty Images

Following Magic Johnson's return to the Los Angeles Lakers in an advisory role, the Hall of Famer discussed his plans and expectations for the job Thursday.

According to Josh Peter of USA Today, Johnson wants final say on personnel decisions: "[I'm] Working to call the shots, because it only works that way. 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."

Lakers co-owner and president Jeanie Buss announced Johnson's new position last week, although little was said regarding his official duties.

The 57-year-old NBA legend is unsure of everything his job will entail, but his comments to Peter were focused on shaping the roster to his liking.

"Look, [co-owner] Jim [Buss] 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. ...

"... It's going to take time and we know that. I'm not going to fool nobody and I don't want the fanbase 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."

Johnson suggested two or three years is a realistic timeline for the Lakers to become a threat in the Western Conference. L.A. is currently 14th in the conference at 18-37 during its first campaign under head coach Luke Walton.

Johnson expressed confidence in Walton, however, and mentioned the importance of working in lockstep with him.

"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."

Johnson, a five-time NBA champion as a player, has enjoyed success in an executive role with Major League Baseball's Los Angeles Dodgers since becoming a part owner in 2012.

Although the Lakers have a long way to go before they are a perennial playoff team contending for titles, there are some quality pieces in place. The core of Julius Randle, D'Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram are all 22 years of age or younger. Players such as Larry Nance Jr. (24), Ivica Zubac (19) and Jordan Clarkson (24) also offer hope for the future.

L.A. also has one more win than it did all of last season.

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