Magic Johnson’s tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers as president of basketball operations will be remembered for many moments, most of which were not great. Among those was his handling of the trade negotiations for Anthony Davis.
Davis requested a trade from the New Orleans Pelicans shortly before the 2019 NBA Trade Deadline and Magic became the forefront of trying to get him to Los Angeles. In the process, negotiations were constantly leaked, team morale hit an all-time low, and the Lakers were ridiculed for how they handled the process.
Nevertheless, Magic Johnson appeared on ESPN’s First Take on Monday and maintained that he had no regrets about the situation, claiming then-Pelicans general manager Dell Demps leaked the rumors and that the Lakers young players (namely Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma) bounced back and had strong performances despite hearing their names in trade rumors:
Magic has looked like a bit of a sympathetic figure here given his allegations that Rob Pelinka backstabbed him and that Lakers management did not allow him enough decision-making power.
But he was solely responsible for how the trade deadline shook out and how the players responded has no bearing on whether he was right or not. Yes, Anthony Davis is the type of player you sell the farm for. But the Lakers were bidding against themselves and somehow still losing while in the spotlight. Magic was solely responsible for that.