John­son still can dish it out for the Lak­ers

He says Pel­i­cans didn’t ne­go­ti­ate in good faith and his young play­ers don’t need to be treated like ‘ba­bies.’

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Tania Gan­guli

PHILADEL­PHIA — Magic John­son has no re­grets about the pub­lic na­ture of his con­ver­sa­tions with New Or­leans Pel­i­cans gen­eral man­ager Dell Demps dur­ing the last two weeks as the Lak­ers tried to trade for An­thony Davis. John­son be­lieves his play­ers are pro­fes­sional enough to han­dle hear­ing their names in trade ru­mors.

“Quit mak­ing this about think­ing these guys are ba­bies, be­cause that’s what you’re treat­ing them like,” John­son said. “They’re pro­fes­sion­als. All of them. This is how this league works. They know it, I know it. That’s how it goes. So we gotta move for­ward, and we are mov­ing for­ward. They played out­stand­ing against Bos­ton, give them credit. We need to play well and move on.”

John­son was asked if he thought New Or­leans was ne­go­ti­at­ing in good faith.

“No,” John­son said. “We knew that ba­si­cally at the end of the day what hap­pened, hap­pened. And we knew that when we first started. In terms of what hap­pened. But hey, it is what it is.”

John­son met with the Lak­ers as a team and said he had side­bar con­ver­sa­tions with a few play­ers to check on their frame of mind. Play­ers had tepid re­ac­tions when asked about the meet­ing af­ter Sun­day’s 143-120 loss at Philadel­phia.

“We just hashed out, just is what it is,” Kyle Kuzma said af­ter his 39-point per­for­mance. “But at the end of the day bas­ket­ball’s a business, and we as pro­fes­sion­als have to know that and play through what­ever.

“Ob­vi­ously we know that, just from be­ing pro­fes­sion­als and be­ing around this business and watch­ing it for so many years, you just kind of know, peo­ple get traded, peo­ple get put on the block, peo­ple are al­ways in trade ru­mors and that’s just how it is. Like I’ve said be­fore, that was our first time around and a lot of us kind of let it get to us, but as pro­fes­sion­als we can’t.”

Said JaVale McGee: “I felt good. How am I sup­posed to an­swer that? How did I feel? Tingly in­side? I don’t know.”

The Lak­ers reached out to the Pel­i­cans af­ter Davis’ agent, Rich Paul, told re­porters on Jan. 28 that his client had re­quested a trade. John­son spoke with Demps the next day, and sent a se­ries of of­fers on Jan. 30.

Al­though they spoke sev­eral times for the next week, Demps never told John­son what he wanted in return. Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Ivica Zubac, Josh Hart, Bran­don In­gram, Ra­jon Rondo and Ken­tavi­ous Cald­well-Pope all were of­fered to the Pel­i­cans at some point.

Clip­pers fans yelled “you’re all get­ting traded!” at the Lak­ers bench in their Jan. 31 game. Dur­ing a 42-point loss at In­di­ana, fans chanted “LeBron’s gonna trade you” as In­gram shot free throws.

The Lak­ers lost three of four games dur­ing the span be­fore Thurs­day’s trade dead­line, then cel­e­brated that night af­ter a buzzer-beat­ing vic­tory at Bos­ton.

John­son was in Michi­gan on Satur­day for a re­union of Michi­gan State’s 1979 na­tional cham­pi­onship team and then f lew to Philadel­phia to check in on the Lak­ers.

“They get paid to do a job,” John­son said. “We’re all pro­fes­sion­als. I’ve been in this league 40 years. A lot of play­ers got traded on Thurs­day. Guess what’s gonna hap­pen next year? A lot of play­ers will get traded. A lot of play­ers will stay home. I talked to our guys; they’re in a good place.”

It was the first time many of them had any in­ter­ac­tion with the front of­fice since trade ru­mors first emerged.

“He runs the team and he felt the pulse of the team ei­ther through­out the trade dead­line or what­ever the case may be,” LeBron James said. “But just hav­ing him around, when­ever that may be, is al­ways good for the ball­club.”

Asked what hav­ing John­son there does for the team, Rondo said, “noth­ing.”

Rondo was then asked if he found the meet­ing pro­duc­tive.

“I don’t know,” he said af­ter a pause. “Ev­ery­one’s dif­fer­ent. Ev­ery­one re­ceives in­for­ma­tion dif­fer­ent. It didn’t trans­late to a win.”

In­gram, a cen­tral fig­ure in the trade dis­cus­sions, said he found John­son’s meet­ing pro­duc­tive.

“Just him, his pres­ence, his pres­ence be­ing here, I think it sets the boundary, it sets the tone,” In­gram said. “He just talked about con­nec­tiv­ity and how we can get bet­ter over the course.”

Chris Szagola As­so­ci­ated Press

MAGIC JOHN­SON ar­rived in Philadel­phia to give the Lak­ers a pep talk, but the re­sult was unin­spir­ing.

Chris Szagola As­so­ci­ated Press

BRAN­DON IN­GRAM and the Lak­ers don’t find much suc­cess against Joel Em­biid and the 76ers.

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