Lakers Rumors: Magic Johnson Ignored Pleas to Re-Sign Brook Lopez, Julius Randle

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMarch 11, 2019

Los Angeles Lakers' Julius Randle, left, and Brook Lopez watch the closing moments of the Lakers 113-102 loss to the Sacramento Kings in an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017, in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

Brook Lopez and Julius Randle are enjoying productive seasons for the Milwaukee Bucks and New Orleans Pelicans, respectively, but the Los Angeles Lakers' coaching staff reportedly wanted President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson to keep them in purple and gold.

According to Bill Oram of The Athletic, Johnson "ignored the pleas of the coaching staff that he retain" the two bigs following the signing of LeBron James and instead added JaVale McGee, Michael Beasley and Lance Stephenson.

The report comes amid speculation surrounding the future of head coach Luke Walton, with Oram noting that firing Walton "would cause considerable heartburn for officials within the organization who, according to team sources, continue to advocate for him."

The pair of frontcourt players surely would have helped a Lakers team that is among the league's most disappointing this season. Even with James leading the way, Los Angeles is a mere 30-36 and 7.5 games behind the Los Angeles Clippers for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with just 16 games remaining.

The playoffs are an absolute long shot at best at this point, but that may not have been the case with Lopez and Randle instead of the journeymen Johnson turned toward.

Lopez is averaging 12.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game for the Bucks and is shooting a career-best 36.7 percent from deep. He would be an ideal big to play with James because his ability to extend his game beyond the arc would provide floor spacing for the King to either attack the basket or kick out for open looks.

His rim protection would also bolster a Lakers defense that is an ugly 23rd in the league in defensive rating in the last 10 games, per NBA.com.

As for Randle, he is averaging 20.7 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game for the Pelicans as a constant double-double threat who appears to have a bright future at 24 years old.

Unless Johnson and the Lakers are able to add marquee pieces this offseason before James turns 35 years old in December, they do not share that bright future in the loaded Western Conference.

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