Charles Barkley: It’s Magic Johnson’s fault if Lakers don’t make playoffs
The Los Angeles Lakers are on the outside looking in at postseason picture in the competitive Western Conference at the All-Star break, and Charles Barkley believes Magic Johnson should be blamed if the team fails to turn around their season and make the playoffs.
Barkley, in an appearance Thursday on ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption,” argued that the Lakers president of basketball operations so completely bungled the pursuit of Anthony Davis ahead of the NBA trade deadline that the fallout could deep-six the team’s postseason prospects.
The outspoken NBA on TNT analyst also suggested the shaky status of embattled head coach Luke Walton could play a role in the Lakers’ unraveling as well.
“I do not think they will make the playoffs,” Barkley said, as transcribed by Forbes. “I think Magic Johnson dropped the ball by letting all that [Anthony Davis trade] speculation become so public and not speaking to his team or meeting with them sooner. I think the uncertainty with Luke Walton is playing in everybody’s mind. I think all those distractions will be the end of the Lakers making the playoffs.”
Johnson without question has made some missteps during his tenure running the Lakers, and at times has even ran afoul of the NBA league office due to his outspoken nature concerning other teams’ players.
That said, Johnson played an integral role in luring LeBron James to L.A., and he and general manager Rob Pelinka enjoy the support of Lakers co-owner and CEO Jeanie Buss thanks to that franchise-altering coup.
The Lakers currently occupy the 10th spot in the West with a 28-29 record, trailing the 32-27 Los Angeles Clippers by three full games. By no means are the Lakers doomed, as any team boasting James on its roster should ever feel the need to admit defeat.
However, the hope has to be that Johnson’s efforts last week to get everyone back on the same page after the failed pursuit of Davis helps things get quickly back on track. After all, wasting James’ first season with the Lakers by failing to reach the playoffs would be arguably inexcusable.