LOS ANGELES – His basketball instincts were not always right, but they were never wrong. There is too much evidence for this during a Hall of Fame career in which Magic Johnson created dreams for herself while destroying those of others.
Where do we start? Apart from the no-look passports, which became a trademark, he once threw the ball down so as not to be deliberately fouled. The back ball slowly spun off the final seconds, sending the Los Angeles Lakers to a playoff victory. Who thought of it?
He is back, this time for running and restoring the Lakers for the sole purpose of winning, and once again, Magic has to remember his initial instincts when he accepted the job and learned to trust them.
His plan was to never blow the Lakers out of the starting blocks and win the month of October ̵
This is probably what has caught Luke Walton and outsiders surprised the other day when the young coach heard a higher octave than usual from Magic, who gave Walton an early talk with the Lakers in a sluggish, but quite understandable ( and harmless for now) 4 stopped -6 start.
But the sources that emphasized calm yesterday said that Walton was not in danger of losing his job this season, the meeting of Magic was merely an early (albeit premature) shake-up call.
This belief in Walton seemed strange on Sunday, when the Lakers reached their low point in the LeBron era and were outclassed by the Toronto Raptors at the Staples Center between 121 and 107. Kawhi Leonard was out because of a sore left foot and the Lakers heard Boos from fans with high hopes.
Leonard will be on duty at the Lakers next summer when he meets the vacant agency, but for that season anyway. He's in a team with fewer adjustment issues and the easier way to the NBA Finals (meaning they're in the East play). Toronto is 9: 1 and exceptionally LeBron-proof (ie he is now in the West).
If Magic was in a hurry to keep up with Stephen Currys, Kevin Durants and Klay Thompson's pace – which is a frustrating exercise at the time, to be honest – he had two ways to try a shortcut and his basketball instincts different, maybe smart.
In the summer of 2017 – just months after Johnson was named president of Lakers – the Indiana Pacers informally brought Paul George to the trading market. In Indiana, there was a strong sense that George would not sign again, a year off with complete voluntariness, and it was best to get value for him now instead of watching him walk and get nothing. The Pacers wanted a package with young players and / or draft picks plus salary cap filler. And the negotiations with the Lakers began with Brandon Ingram.
Magic passed the deal thinking that George (a kid from Southern California) would sign up as a free agent the following summer (he did not) and in the worst case the Lakers would keep their hat and Ingram would show an improvement ( he has).
Leonard is now one year from the freelance agency. He grew up in the Los Angeles area and was bought by the San Antonio Spurs this summer. While San Antonio did not necessarily want to send him to a Western rival, Kawhi would have been a laker at the right price. And again, negotiations began with Ingram as part of a package.
Johnson died again when he assumed that Kawhi would come to the Lakers in the summer of 2019 in vain, so to speak. Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart – all designed by the Lakers – and most watch if everyone does not make noise in due course?
While the volume of Magics meeting with Walton may have been uncovered, the topic was misleading. Magic does not immediately challenge the Lakers to victory, although that would be fine with him. He immediately calls on the Lakers to play the defense and blames Walton for it.
The Lakers rank defensively in the bottom third of the NBA with improvements only marginal and only visible in spurts. This has happened, though Center JaVale McGee played surprisingly well as a rim protector and all the young legs in the rotation. If the Lakers can not defend now, how can they defend in the playoffs if they can? That would certainly make Walton a vulnerable Laker coach.
Therefore, it was better for Magic to let him know now than to bear the consequences later.
The Lakers were buried by further defensive collapses on Sunday, saw the Raptors 41-point in the first quarter and watched as Serge Ibaka scored only two out of 17 shots on 34 points (nearly 20 above its season average). But it was the second game of a back-to-back game for the Lakers, and Walton was still the coach after the game. So, no, there's no hot seat.
"They arrived where they wanted, they got into a rhythm, and I found it difficult to stop after that," Walton said.
The missing piece, someone who has done it immediately heal the defense of the Lakers (among others), not played. Leonard's foot was too badly injured two nights earlier in the final moments of the Raptors' victory in Phoenix. Nevertheless, he has an MVP-like start: 26.1 points, 7.6 rebounds and some of the best perimeter defense in the league.
He came to Toronto from the Spurs on a summer blockbuster trade with Danny Green, who says what Kawhi is doing At the moment, it should not be the slightest surprise, even after spending virtually the entire last season with an injured quad. Muscle is missing.
"I was expecting exactly what he has shown so far," said Green. "He is one of the best players in this league and is determined to prove it at night and at night. I've seen that before. I see it again.
Here's the question the Lakers want to answer: is he happy in Toronto?
"You'd have to ask him," said Green, and good luck with it. "All that Kawhi has for a perceived love for the Lakers in." Asked near LA, read: "I was a fan of Allen Iverson."
What on November 5, except the first day of July 1, means exactly nothing Free agency is a long way.
Up That's where the Lakers and Walton are under the command of the boss to clean up the defense, reduce errors in late games and stay on the point. "
Even Kiel to stay," said LeBron, who stood up for Walton Do not read too much into such nights. "
Tell it to the Magic.
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Shaun Powell has been working for the NBA for over 25 years, you can email him here you can find his archive here and follow him on Twit .
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