Magic Johnson plans to hug it out with the Los Angeles Lakers to help them cope with the fallout from the NBA trade deadline.
“It’s a part of business, it’s a part of being a professional athlete,” the Lakers' team president said Saturday. “I’m going to hug ’em and tell them that we got to come together and our goal is still in reach, which is to make the playoffs.”
The Lakers were in pursuit of disgruntled New Orleans superstar Anthony Davis and many of their players were mentioned as possibly being dealt before the deadline Thursday. The franchise ended up trading Michael Beasley, Ivica Zubac and rookie Svi Mykhailiuk in a pair of deals to acquire Reggie Bullock and Mike Muscala.
Johnson said before the Sunday's game in Philadelphia that he didn't believe the Pelicans engaged in good-faith negotiations at the trade deadline during the Lakers' pursuit of Anthony Davis. Johnson added that the LA players who were on the trade block are professionals who are capable of moving forward.
"Quit making this about thinking these guys are babies because that's what you're treating them like," Johnson said Sunday in Philadelphia, before the Lakers lost 143-120 to the 76ers. "They're professionals. All of them. And this is how this league works. They know it, I know it -- that's how it goes.
"So we've got to move forward, and we are moving forward. They played outstanding against Boston. Give them credit. And we want to play well today and continue on. This is a part of the league. You've got a good side of the business that we get paid to be professional basketball players, and there's deals like this."
Johnson said the Lakers were looking to make deals, but nothing materialized for them until the week of trade deadline.
"Nobody was going to make a move until the last week. And we were locked into Reggie for a long time. Had some great talks with Detroit. And then finally it became a deal. Mike was really last-second when we didn't know that Philly was going to make that move [acquiring Tobias Harris from the Clippers]. When they made that move and we looked up and said, 'Man, a stretch 4-5 could really help us out.' And we feel good about the trade."
Johnson joined the team in Philadelphia on Sunday after attending a reunion with the 1978-79 Michigan State championship team to celebrate its 40 anniversary on Saturday in East Lansing, Mich. He used the trip to Philadelphia to help let his team know the goal remains ending the Lakers' playoff drought.
"I talked to guys individually," Johnson said. "Because that's important to have sidebars with them. Make sure that we're heading all in the same direction. And we are. And we got a goal ahead of us to try to make the playoffs. That's what it's all about."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.