LOS ANGELES — His voice would rise throughout the conversation because he was unable to hide his excitement, each sentence from Magic Johnson about his beloved Lakers and the job executive Rob Pelinka did in constructing the team leaving the Hall of Famer and Lakers legend "giddy" about what they can accomplish.
Johnson sees the Lakers as a championship contender and he said Pelinka, the team's vice president of basketball operations and general manager, should be lauded for his vision.
"From that trade deadline to this offseason, we should all give him a standing ovation, because these Lakers are dangerous," Johnson said Thursday during a phone interview. "This is a championship team and they shouldn't run away from that. They should embrace that and then go for it. I think LeBron [James] sees it too. One thing I'm really happy about is that he can see that he has a championship team. And when him and Anthony Davis feel like, 'Oh, man. OK, we can win it all.' Watch out for them."
Johnson said he has high hope for the Lakers following Pelinka's offseason moves.
Austin Reaves (four years, $56 million), Rui Hachimura (three years, $51 million) and D'Angelo Russell (two years, $37 million) all re-signed with the Lakers. Gabe Vincent (three years, $33 million), Christian Wood (two years, $5.74 million), Jaxson Hayes (two years, $4.6 million), Taurean Prince (one year, $4.5 million) and Cam Reddish (two years, $4.6 million) all signed as free agents.
"This is going to be one of the most exciting seasons, because this is an exciting team," Johnson said. "See, everybody we got can run. They can jump. This is going to be crazy. People are going to be really excited to watch this team play. I'm just giddy. I can't wait. So, Rob, thank you, thank you, and he deserves to be (NBA) Executive of the Year. They overlooked him all those years, but they can't overlook him with this one. He is clearly the executive of the year."
Pelinka said he stays in contact with Johnson, the two of them talking about basketball and how the Lakers can be great again.
On Thursday, after Pelinka and Lakers coach Darvin Ham had their news conference with the media, Pelinka smiled when talking about Johnson.
"Yeah, Earvin is excited about this team," Pelinka said. "We all are."
Johnson likes the idea that the Lakers are so deep and can play a variety of ways.
©2023 Los Angeles Times. Visit latimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.