As we learned last month, Lakers legend Magic Johnson has returned to the franchise as an adviser to owner Jeanie Buss. Around the time of the announcement, there were rumors aplenty about Johnson having a significant role in the Lakers braintrust moving forward -- as Jeanie's brother Jim, part-owner and vice president, vowed to diminish his role within the organization if the Lakers were not championship contenders by his self-imposed deadline of "three to four years."
With the Lakers patrolling the bottom of the Western Conference, the franchise appears to be headed this direction. These rumors and vows were fortified early Friday morning when Johnson spoke with USA Today's Josh Peter and made it very clear as to what he'd like to see happen in the near future:
"Working to call the shots, because it only works that way ... Right now, I'm advising. I get that. But at the end of the day, then we all got to come together and somebody's got to say, 'I'm making the final call,' all right? And who's that going to be? So, we'll see what happens.''
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Johnson then spoke as to what he thinks his role will be by the end of the season:
"Look, Jim knows where we are, Jeannie knows where we are, as a franchise, and so some decisions have to be made ... I may only be in this role for a short term, I may be here for a long time. We'll just have to wait and see what happens. I can't tell you that right now.''
And finally, Johnson elaborated on his expectations of the franchise's rebuilding process:
"It's going to take time and we know that ... I'm not going to fool nobody and I don't want the fan base to think, 'Oh, I'm back, so it's going to turn around tomorrow.' It doesn't work like that. You have to make some good decisions, you have to make sure we use the money wisely when we have it for free agents and then we're going to draft well.''
If Johnson is going to have this expanded role, how is he preparing?
"The main part for me is really learning the other part that I didn't know, and that is to understand the CBA, the salary cap, where we are in terms of the salary cap and who's a free-agent-to-be. You've got a lot of young players so you've got to learn when are their contracts coming up, if you can give them the max deal, give them an extension, all those types of things you've got to learn. It's a lot of things, but I'm excited. I've been working on all of those things, and then meeting with the staff.''
And finally, how does Johnson plan on working with head coach Luke Walton?
If I was trying to make decisions on the team and not consult with him, it would never work,'' Johnson said. "The key is Luke because, OK, what does he have in terms of who's making him happy? What does he need in terms of coming up on the draft? And even if we have money in free agency, what do we look for to help you as the coach? What do you need? What do you want to look for?
It's all coming together and working together, all of us. What do you like about the team you have now and what's missing from the team? What would you like to see? And then he'll tell you, 'Well, I want this.' OK, we'll bring in those type of guys. Which one do you feel really fits your system? He'll say blah-blah-blah, I'll say blah-blah-blah, OK, let's go with so-and-so.
It only works that way.''