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The Los Angeles Lakers are among the teams to have inquired about the availability of Indiana Pacers star forward Paul George in recent days, according to league sources.

While the conversation didn't go beyond an initial expression of interest -- which is common in the NBA in advance of the trade deadline -- it's notable simply for the names involved: New Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and Pacers president Larry Bird, lifelong rivals and close friends, were on the phone together.

On his first full day in charge, after Tuesday's stunning promotion from an advisory role in the wake of the twin dismissals of longtime Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and executive vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss, Johnson arrived at the Lakers' offices early Wednesday to work the trade phones and, yes, throw in a call to Bird.

USA Today reported Wednesday that George recently met with Pacers owner Herb Simon to expound face-to-face on what he told ESPN's Marc Stein last week during All-Star festivities on ESPN Radio: George still longs to lead Indiana to its first NBA championship but wants to know he's part of a title-contending roster before committing to a lucrative contract extension this summer.


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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Magic Johnson swept in to soothe the rattled Los Angeles Lakers, a young, struggling team still reeling from front-office upheaval and the trade of leading scorer Lou Williams.

The Hall of Famer's words were brief before practice on Wednesday, with some of the players meeting for the first time with the former star of the franchise's "Showtime" era in the 1980s.

"He's going to come in here and try to make us better, get us back to winning," Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson said.

Co-owner Jeanie Buss installed Johnson as president of basketball operations after firing longtime general manager Mitch Kupchak and dismissing her brother Jim as executive vice president of basketball operations a day earlier.

"Everything happened so fast," Lakers rookie coach Luke Walton said. "The initial thought is why do it right before the trade deadline, but Magic came in and we got to work right away."

Walton was processing his own conflicted emotions, having been close to Kupchak and Jim Buss. He spoke to both men on the phone after their ousters, listening as they offered encouraging words about his bright future with the franchise and ability to work with the young roster.

"It was definitely a little sad," Walton said. "I think it's important to remember all the great things they did when they were here too. Then, on the other hand, you have Earvin coming in and he's in there and he's making phone calls. It was great to work with him. It was a unique, interesting day in terms of the emotions going on.

"But the main thing everyone talked about was, 'We have a job to do still.' "

Walton said Johnson spent the past two days at the team's practice facility, talking with him and other employees about focusing on their individual jobs.

"If I'm sitting in a room with Magic and he's selling me on something, most times I'm buying it," Walton said.

Julius Randle


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Ramona Shelburne and Bill Oram join Outside the Lines to examine where the Lakers go with Magic Johnson as president of basketball operations.
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Dan Le Batard makes the argument that there are many more qualified people to run the Lakers than Magic Johnson.
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Stephen A. Smith shuts down the idea that Magic Johnson will be as ineffective in Los Angeles as Phil Jackson has been in New York.
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Magic Johnson aims to bring "Showtime" back to L.A. Here's how he shined as a player.

Has the magic returned to the Los Angeles Lakers?

With the drastic move to change the team's leadership, Lakers president and co-owner Jeanie Buss certainly hopes so.

On Tuesday, the Lakers named team legend Magic Johnson president of basketball operations while firing longtime general manager Mitch Kupchak and removing Jim Buss as executive vice president of basketball operations.

"I wouldn't be sitting here if it was a good situation," Johnson said Tuesday afternoon at the team's practice facility. "I understand what I'm up against, but I'm here, and I'm here for the long haul, and eventually we will turn it around."

The Hall of Famer is confident he can rebuild the Lakers into championship contenders.

But what do you think? Will Magic get the job done?

Vote now:

While Johnson has expressed optimism about turning around the franchise, it certainly won't be easy.

Not only are the Lakers coming off the worst season in franchise history (17-65), but they've also missed the playoffs three years in a row, the longest postseason drought in team history.

At 19-39 this season, the Lakers have the third-worst record in the NBA. They enter Friday's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder having lost seven of their past 10 games.

--Isaac Chipps


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Ryen Russillo and Chris B. Haynes examines why Magic Johnson opted to trade Lou Williams to the Rockets.
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Max Kellerman thinks that while Magic Johnson will uplift the team, Kobe Bryant might bring down morale.
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Stephen A. Smith isn't letting Jeanie Buss off of the hook for not firing her brother Jim sooner.
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Stephen A. Smith thinks Magic Johnson restores credibility to "the purple and gold."
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Ryen Russillo and Tim Legler don't see Kobe Bryant rolling up his sleeves putting in long hours to help Magic Johnson.

Can the greatest Laker ever save the worst Lakers ever?: The Los Angeles Lakers now belong to Earvin Johnson, and there’s nothing magic about it. The smiling, charismatic former star has been handed the serious job of fixing this city’s crown jewel sports franchise, and it will require more than a no-look pass or baby sky hook. -- Los Angeles Times

Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak, exec Jim Buss relieved of duties as Magic Johnson takes over basketball operations: On one of the most dramatic days in the history of the Lakers, the woman at the center of it all made drastic changes Tuesday aiming to help resuscitate the team. Jeanie Buss, the Lakers’ governor and president, fired her brother, Jim Buss, the head of basketball operations. She fired general manager Mitch Kupchak, who has been a Laker for more than 35 years. She fired John Black, the team’s spokesman for more than two decades. -- Los Angeles Times

Rob Pelinka to be new Lakers general manager: Magic Johnson, maybe the best basketball player ever to put on a uniform in Los Angeles, sat next to his new boss Tuesday afternoon inside a television studio and talked about his vision for his organization, the Lakers. -- Los Angeles Times

Lakers trade Lou Williams to Houston for Corey Brewer, first-round pick: Lou Williams was never one to pay attention to trade rumors. Corey Brewer didn't think he’d have to this year. On Tuesday afternoon the two players were part of the same deal, less than 48 hours before the NBA’s trade deadline. The Lakers, most likely lottery-bound, agreed to send shooting guard Williams to the playoff-bound Houston Rockets in exchange for small forward Brewer and a future first-round draft pick. -- Los Angeles Times

Lakers' Magic Johnson plans to call shots, while pledging to 'empower' next GM: With Magic Johnson determined to run a fast break toward rebuilding his prized Lakers, he will face two questions that defined his Hall of Fame career. Will Johnson lead the Lakers by delegating to others? Or will Johnson look to score himself? After blending those qualities to lead the Lakers to five NBA championships during the Showtime Era, how will Johnson approach his next job as the Lakers’ president of basketball operations? -- The Orange County Register

How Lakers' Jim Buss did himself in: The Bellagio was quiet save for the industrial vacuum cleaner an employee pushed over the carpet. Across the casino, Jim Buss cut a solitary figure in front of an otherwise unattended bank of KISS-themed slot machines. The Lakers top basketball executive sat left alone with his thoughts, credits in the machine and his customary pack of Newports. -- The Orange County Register

Lakers are now officially out of scapegoats: Laker apocalypse now ... So much for being a family-style organization, even if no one will lament Jim Buss’ departure and GM Mitch Kupchak was clearly in the crosshairs. Popular as these moves are among Lakers fans, the biggest shakeup in franchise history leaves Magic Johnson in charge amid reports that Rob Pelinka, Kobe Bryant’s former agent, will replace Kupchak. -- The Orange County Register

Lakers expected to hire Rob Pelinka as next general manager: For their next front office move, the Lakers plan to hire a man well known for his connection to Kobe Bryant. But after spending countless years negotiating contracts for Bryant and other NBA players, longtime player agent Rob Pelinka will soon be negotiating deals as the Lakers’ general manager. Although the Lakers had not announced the deal as of Tuesday night, they are reportedly finalizing what will be a multiyear deal. -- The Orange County Register

Lakers' stale, hopeless saga gets a dose of Magic: First, the Lakers owe a major salute to Mitch Kupchak. Not the Kupchak who was shoehorned into the big chair with Jim Buss when the Lakers disastrously traded for Steve Nash and signed Dwight Howard and soared helplessly into space like Elton John’s Rocket Man. -- The Orange County Register

Lakers trade Lou Williams to Houston Rockets for Corey Brewer, first-round pick: The Lakers didn’t limit their changes to the front office on Tuesday. They also started making changes to their roster, too. The Lakers traded veteran guard Lou Williams to the Houston Rockets for veteran small forward Corey Brewer and a first-round pick. -- The Orange County Register

What's next for Jim Buss?

February, 22, 2017
Feb 22
4:27
AM PT


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Mike & Mike try to figure out what options Jim Buss has now that he has been ousted from the Lakers.
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Brian Windhorst explains how tough it will be for Magic Johnson as the Lakers' President of Basketball Operations and explains what the reaction around the league was about the moves Los Angeles made.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
D'Angelo Russell
PTS AST STL MIN
14.2 4.7 1.2 26.5
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Randle 8.1
AssistsD. Russell 4.7
StealsJ. Clarkson 1.2
BlocksI. Zubac 0.7