Report: Details Released on LeBron James' Meeting with Magic Johnson, Lakers

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJuly 2, 2018

Former NBA player Magic Johnson laughs with Eastern Conference LeBron James of the Cleveland Caveliers (23) during the first half of the NBA All-Star basketball game in New Orleans, Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

A personal meeting between Los Angeles Lakers team president Magic Johnson and LeBron James may have helped seal the biggest move of the NBA offseason.

ESPN's Ramona Shelburne reported Johnson traveled to James' house in Los Angeles before James decided to sign with the Lakers:

Ramona Shelburne @ramonashelburne

How did the Lakers close this? Magic Johnson went to one of LeBron’s houses in LA late Saturday night and met with him for several hours.

Ramona Shelburne @ramonashelburne

The Lakers all planned to congregate at their facility last night for free agent calls. Magic was expected to be there. Instead he was at LeBron’s house— closing.

Ramona Shelburne @ramonashelburne

This was a very hush-hush operation. Lakers knew they needed to give Bron space to decide and announce it as he wanted. None of us reporters could even confirm they’d been in touch whereas calls with Cavs & Sixers leaked. Says something on the discipline for all involved

Ramona Shelburne @ramonashelburne

Some more context to the Magic-LeBron meeting Saturday night. LBJ was already strongly considering the Lakers but wanted to look Magic in the eye and see if they could find a trust before making a decision, per sources close to the situation.

Ramona Shelburne @ramonashelburne

In other words, LeBron and Magic needed to bond and build trust. It wasn’t necessary for Magic to do a hard sell. He just had to be real & LeBron then obviously had to feel good about the partnership.

Klutch Sports Group confirmed Sunday that James agreed to a four-year, $154 million deal with the Lakers.

The Lakers turned plenty of heads when they named Johnson team president and subsequently hired Rob Pelinka, who rose to prominence as an agent for a number of NBA players, including Kobe Bryant. At the time, it looked like the franchise was leaning too heavily on nostalgia and the Lakers mystique.

However, it's hard to argue with the results.

James is one of the best players in the league, but he still turns 34 in December. Sooner or later, the four-time MVP will fall victim to the aging curve, and that adds a bit of urgency for both him and the Lakers.

The fact that James felt confident in agreeing to sign with the Lakers—on a four-year deal no less—speaks to how highly he regarded the direction in which Johnson and Pelinka are taking the team.

Their next task will be selling the San Antonio Spurs on the best package they can offer for Kawhi Leonard. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Leonard still prefers a move to the Lakers.

Now that they have James on board, Johnson and Pelinka can be a little more patient in waiting out the Spurs. Trading a few promising young stars will also be more palatable when you know you're building a roster around two of the 10 best players in the NBA in James and Leonard.