Lakers News: Latest on Magic Johnson's Game Plan, Tyson Chandler, Michael Beasley

Maurice Bobb@@ReeseReportFeatured ColumnistNovember 7, 2018

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 07:  Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations Earvin 'Magic' Johnson (L) and head coach Luke Walton of the Lakers talk during a 2017 Summer League game between the Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers at the Thomas & Mack Center on July 7, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Clippers won 96-93 in overtime. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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It's official: Luke Walton has been put on notice.

The head coach for the Los Angeles Lakers was scolded by Magic Johnson for the team's less-than-stellar start to the season.

Once news of their contentious meeting leaked, rumors ran rampant that Walton's job was on the line.

But after the president of basketball operations reportedly yelled and cursed at Walton regarding the coach's plans and direction of the team's offense and defense, he has come out in support of him.

"Yeah, we're not going to fire him," Johnson told ESPN.com's Ohm Youngmisuk. "[The meeting last week with Walton] wasn't even a meeting about that. We just have to be better, and that was it."

Considering that the team had fallen to 2-5 at the time of the meeting, Johnson's rage was understandable.

But he had to put out the fire that he started quickly, to dodge any further discontent.

"I said it: Luke took it and we're all good," Johnson told Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times. "It's no big deal. He's going to finish the season. Unless something drastic happens, which it won't."

Translation: if Walton doesn't follow Magic's plan, he's a goner.

But what is that plan?

Initially, Johnson's plan allowed for time to develop the team's young core while trying to field a team that could compete in the short term with the NBA's best player, LeBron James. In a curious move, he surrounded James with surly veterans who are under contract for one year and declared the Lakers would be there come playoff time.

As it turns out, Johnson could live with L.A.'s offensive woes, but he couldn't live with their shortcomings on the defensive end.

Los Angeles Lakers @Lakers

🎥 Luke Walton discusses the need for improved transition defense, particularly at the beginning of games. https://t.co/bh5hcUnBLb

"Magic Johnson is not satisfied with how they look defensively, and he thinks that Luke Walton needs a better coaching staff," Stephen A. Smith said on ESPN, per Yahoo's Dan Feldman. "Now, he's not going to say that publicly, but I'm telling you what I know.

"Clearly, if Magic Johnson is telling you he wants a more experienced staff, that's a hint that you might need to take heed to and do it if you like coaching the Los Angeles Lakers."

The Lakers rank 23rd in NBA.com's defensive efficiency, which defies conventional logic considering how well JaVale McGee has defended the paint and the fact they have youthful energy to deploy.

Johnson might swing for the fences on a superstar player during free agency this coming summer, but until then, he wants Walton to make sure the team competes and plays defense and he's holding him accountable for that.

Translation: no more embarrassing losses like the one they experienced at the hands of the Kawhi Leonard-less Toronto Raptors.

In their 121-107 win, the Raptors put up 41 points in the first quarter. They were led by Serge Ibaka, who couldn't seem to miss. Thanks to L.A.'s numerous breakdowns on defense, Ibaka finished with 34 points on 15-of-17 shooting.

It's a drubbing that everyone on the Lakers, including James, Walton and especially Johnson, wanted to forget.

And they did.

They responded by bouncing back with a 114-110 road win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

It was then that James confirmed his support for Walton:

"I mean, it's great to win, period. Listen, coaching staff put us in a position to win, and it's up to us to go up and execute.

"Luke can care less about what's going on outside. We could as well. I'm the last person to ask about scrutiny or anything of that nature. So none of that stuff matters to me. The only thing that matters to me is what goes on inside this locker room, both home and away."

And the only thing that matters to Magic Johnson is winning and he'll do whatever's necessary to make sure that happens.


Lakers Sign Tyson Chandler

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 20: Tyson Chandler #4 of the Phoenix Suns laughs at comment by a fan (not pictured) during the first half against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on October 20, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges an
Timothy Nwachukwu/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers have been forced to play small ball this season due to a lack of big men.

To combat that dearth of size, the Lakers have signed center Tyson Chandler.

General manager Rob Pelinka made the announcement on Tuesday after Chandler, who reached a buyout agreement with the Phoenix Suns, cleared waivers. Pelinka said in a statement:

"Having observed our roster for the first 10 games of this young season, one of the areas that Earvin and I discussed with Luke that we desired to upgrade is interior defense and rebounding. In Tyson Chandler we addressed that need, and so much more. We are excited that Tyson will bring championship-level experience to our Lakers team that will solidify our veteran leadership and help positively shape our young core.

"We are thrilled for Tyson to join us as we progress towards our ultimate goals as a team."

The 18-year veteran, who is a Los Angeles native, will be expected to add leadership to the locker room and play extended minutes as a backup center to JaVale McGee.

Chandler took a back seat this year in Phoenix in favor of developing the team's No. 1 draft pick, Deandre Ayton.

He was averaging 3.7 points and 5.6 rebounds per game this season, compared to 6.5 points and 9.1 rebounds last season.

Though his playing time has diminished, Chandler is a former Defensive Player of the Year (2012) and three-time All-Defensive Team selection, which should help shore up the Lakers' defensive woes.

"I love the fact that we're going to get another veteran," James told reporters. "A guy who plays hard, and a guy who's very smart, and another championship to add to the champions that we have...that adds depth in our frontcourt, which we've had trouble with at times."


Michael Beasley Returns

SAN JOSE, CA - OCTOBER 12:  Michael Beasley #11 of the Los Angeles Lakers walks off the court smiling after he received two technical fouls and was ejected from the game against the Golden State Warriors during the second half of their NBA basketball game
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After taking some time away from the team to deal with family issues, Michael Beasley returned to practicing with the Lakers on Tuesday, according to ESPN.com's Dave McMenamin. Beasley missed the last four games and should be available to play Wednesday when L.A. plays host to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The former No. 2 overall draft pick will have some ground to cover, though, as he tries to work his way back into the rotation.

The 11th-year veteran is widely considered an offensive threat, but he's had trouble making his mark in the Lakers rotation. In the three games he's played, the former Kansas State standout has only scored three points. Worse, there were two games in which he didn't even attempt a field goal.

The mercurial forward experienced a resurgence last season with the New York Knicks. In 22.3 minutes of action per game, he averaged 13.2 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists.

The Lakers signed Beasley to a one-year, $3.5 million deal this summer, hoping to get that same offensive output from him this year.

Only time will tell if he can find a way to find his way back and build on last season's success.