Rob Pelinka and Magic Johnson speak at the introductory press conference for Moritz Wagner and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk on June 26, 2018.
(J Alexander Diaz/

Magic Johnson, Front Office Prepared for Free Agency

by Joey Ramirez
Digital Reporter

With free agency looming just four days away, Magic Johnson isn’t feeling an iota of pressure.

“You know how many Finals I’ve been in?” the President of Basketball Operations asked. “You think I’m worried about this? I’ve played against Larry Bird in the Finals. Come on, man. I’ve been in nine Finals. I’ve been in the college NCAA championship.”

“I’m Magic Johnson. I’m still the same dude.”

Johnson — along with General Manager Rob Pelinka — has been at the head of the Lakers’ front office since February 2017.

Since then, the duo has made largely successful moves, including drafting Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart, as well as making a pair of trades that netted first-round picks.

Now comes the challenge of landing a premier free agent.

The Lakers have cap space to sign two players to max contracts beginning at 9 p.m. on June 30. Johnson and Pelinka have long stated that they are comfortable using that money on a star or two either this offseason or next.

“Next summer, if nobody comes and I’m still sitting here like this, then it’s a failure,” Johnson said. “But if you judge us on one summer, then it’s ridiculous.”

Magic Moe-ment

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Johnson has supreme confidence that his front office will be able to land a star free agent by summer 2019. He even went as far as to promise his resignation to Owner and Governor Jeanie Buss if he is unsuccessful.

“If I can’t deliver, then I’m gonna step down myself,” Johnson said. “She won’t have to fire me. I’ll step away from it.”

Still, Johnson says he won’t make a move simply to save face. He is committed to landing the right players for the Lakers’ ultimate goals.

“I’m not going to try to win (the media) over or the fans over by making stupid deals just to say I did something,” Johnson said. “I’m not gonna do that. I’m gonna still be smart. I know this game of basketball frontward and backward.

“I know who can help us and who can’t. It’s going to be fun starting at 9:01 Saturday night.”

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