Magic Johnson got bamboozled, and it could ruin the Lakers

Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Magic Johnson was always once step ahead of his counterparts on the basketball court. He made them look silly with passes only the Harlem Globetrotters knew. He was a live-action Rucker Park figure on the basketball court.

In the latest example of this not translating to a front office role with the Los Angeles Lakers, Magic was absolutely bamboozled by Dell Demps and the New Orleans Pelicans.

It was just last week that Pelicans big man Anthony Davis requested a trade from the organization. Almost immediately, Davis was linked to the Lakers in trade talks. Specifics came out — a clear indication that Los Angeles was thinking long and hard about adding Davis to the mix with LeBron James.

Now, a little over a week later, it appears that Davis won’t be heading to the Lakers before summer time in Southern California.

The Lakers made a last-ditch effort to acquire Davis from a Pelicans team that was never going to trade him to Hollywood in the first place. The names became public record. The players know they were/are on the block. And the end result is going to be a massive distraction for King James and Co.

The players: Pretty much everyone on the Lakers’ roster not named LeBron James were bandied about in trade talks.

  • Salary-cap fillers such as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Michael Beasley and Rajon Rondo were talked about at length. All three were brought on or retained by the Lakers to act as veteran guides with LeBron. How is that dynamic going to work out now?
  • A young core group of Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram we’re involved in the final offer. At the very least, it seems Ball already has one foot out the door.

This is going to impact chemistry: Players are human beings, too.

  • As many as nine players on the Lakers’ roster were brought up in trade talks with the Pelicans. Do we honestly think that they are now all-in for Los Angeles moving forward this season?
  • Remember, a locker room spat occurred between certain veteran members of the Lakers and head coach Luke Walton. Does he have the respect of his team to hold all of this together? We’re not too sure.

It’s obviously LeBron James’ team: Move over Rob Pelinka and Magic Johnson.

  • One of the overriding issues resulting in LeBron’s exit from Cleveland was the control he had over the Cavaliers’ organization. It now appears that King James has the same power in Hollywood.
  • Given both Pelinka and Johnson were seen as power players before being hired in their current roles, this could lead to a long-term power struggle between the Lakers’ front office and the NBA’s most powerful player.

LeBron James didn’t want you: This could potentially be a repeat of the Kyrie Irving situation.

  • We already know that Lonzo Ball didn’t mesh with LeBron’s Lakers. It’s why he was bandied about in trade talks before Davis requested an out in New Orleans.
  • How are the likes of Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma going to handle the fact that they are mere pawns in LeBron’s long game?

In the end, Johnson was bamboozled by a Pelicans team that was never going to trade Davis to the Lakers. If we need another clear example of this, just look at the Lakers’ final offer for Davis.

  • Lonzo Ball
  • Kyle Kuzma
  • Brandon Ingram
  • Ivica Zubac
  • Josh Hart
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
  • Two first-round picks

Magic dug himself into a hole by enabling the Pelicans to control the narrative. That included details of various trade offers being leaked to the press. In turn, returning members of the Lakers have to wonder where they fit into the long-term plans.

In the end, Davis could very much end up with the Lakers this coming summer. But they will face stiff competition from other teams — namely the Celtics. By showing their hand and offering the farm to a team unwilling to trade with them, the Lakers have hit rock bottom.

On to the final couple months of what could ultimately be a lost season in Southern California. The backdrop here being real. LaVar Ball won’t quiet down any time soon. Rumors of Luke Walton’s demise will heat up. A crack in the locker room will show itself. All the while, LeBron will be plotting his next move from a glass house overlooking the rest of this roster.

It’s the 2017-18 Cleveland Cavaliers all over again, but without the talent or pedigree indicative of success. And Magic only has himself to blame for this.