Lakers rebuilding a long-term project says Johnson

While Magic Johnson told reporters Tuesday that he would likely step down if he fails to secure his chosen targets, he stressed the team rebuilding would need this year and next year's free agency windows to be completed
AFP

Los Angeles (AFP) – Los Angeles Lakers president Magic Johnson warned on Tuesday that rebuilding the franchise would be a long-term project which could not be achieved in this year’s free agency window.

The Lakers have been repeatedly linked to audacious moves for LeBron James and Paul George this year as they attempt to re-establish the team as contenders in the Western Conference.

However while Johnson told reporters Tuesday that he would likely step down if he fails to secure his chosen targets, he stressed the team rebuilding would need this year and next year’s free agency windows to be completed.

“No, because I’ve always said this is [about] two summers,” Johnson said, when asked if he would regard it as a failure if he was unable to entice James or George to the Lakers.

“We don’t know what people are going to decide. And we can’t control that. So if guys decide not to come here, it’s not a failure, we turn to next summer,” the Lakers legend added.

Johnson indicated however he could walk away from the Lakers if he was unsuccessful in persuading top targets next year.

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

“If I can’t deliver, then I’m gonna step down myself … I’ll step away from it.”

Johnson, a five-time NBA champion with the Lakers during their 1980s dynasty years, joined the team’s front office in 2017 on a mission to halt the franchise’s declining fortunes.

The Lakers have not reached the postseason since the 2012-2013 campaign and suffered the worst season in their history in 2015-2016 when they posted just 17 wins against 65 defeats.  

Johnson would not be drawn on specific targets the team is eyeing as free agency gets under way this weekend, and insisted he would not make moves just for the sake of it.

“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 9:01pm Saturday night.”

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