Magic Johnson accuses LeBron of hurting the Lakers’ chances last offseason

Former Lakers basketball operations president Magic Johnson chronicles how the offseason moves LeBron James wanted in 2021 have hurt the team this season.

Imagine if the Lakers were 43-33, which would have put them in the Western Conference playoffs, instead of 31-47.

Perhaps that kind of record would have been possible if the Lakers had done things differently last year and LeBron James hadn’t been put in charge of roster decisions like a general manager.

According to former Lakers basketball operations president Magic Johnson, he would have done things differently in 2021 — like bringing in DeMar DeRozan and keeping Alex Caruso, rather than letting both escape to the playoff-tied Chicago Bulls.

“DeRozan wanted to play for the Lakers, and when I got the call from his agent, I called the Lakers and said, ‘Hey, he wants to come home,’ and DeRozan could have been a Laker instead of a Bull,” Johnson said explained on ESPN Stand up. “We could have made that deal. But when Russell and LeBron and they started talking, they nixed that deal and went with Westbrook and he became a Laker instead of DeRozan.

“And I think with DeRozan, and then you had a chance to keep the role players -[Alex] carouso, [Kentavious Caldwell-Pope] KCP – all these guys who are our best defenders are gone. And that’s why we were a bad defensive team. But if you sign DeRozan, just trade [Kyle] Kuzma for Buddy Hield, we would play in the Western Conference Championship this year.”

Magic Johnson accuses LeBron James of choosing Russell Westbrook over DeMar DeRozan

Johnson reiterates the sentiment that has prevailed all season — the Lakers made a mistake trading for Westbrook — but he adds the context of how this situation could have been infinitely better if they had just made different moves .

Nothing Johnson said was impossible: DeRozan was interested in the Lakers, and they could have chosen to keep Caruso and KCP and still trade Kuzma for Hield, and the Lakers would have a much better defense.

Instead, LeBron influenced the team to take Westbrook over DeRozan, and the Bulls have the record Johnson holds for Los Angeles. Considering that six former Lakers now play for the Bulls, it’s not unreasonable to think that the Lakers would have listened to Magic Johnson better than LeBron James in this instance. Magic Johnson accuses LeBron of hurting the Lakers’ chances last offseason

John Verrall

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