Magic Johnson said he’s willing to help Lakers with free agency efforts

Magic Johnson hopes he can provide the Lakers a few assists, yet in a different way that brought them five NBA championships during the Showtime Era.

The famed Laker also sounded eager to help the Lakers this offseason with free agency efforts.

“I love them. I’m going to support them. I asked Mitch [Kupchak] the other day if you want me to recruit this summer,” Johnson said, referring to the Lakers’ general manager. “People don’t know that was my role with Dr. Buss for a while. I was the first to call Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, all these guys. That was my job, calling them and recruiting them.”

Johnson made those comments to reporters in Los Angeles where he was introduced as part of the new ownership group along with Mark Walters to purchase the WNBA’s Sparks. Johnson is also part of the Guggenheim Partners, the investment group that bought the Dodgers in 2012.

Johnson sold his 4.5 ownership stake with the Lakers in 2010 and remains an unpaid vice president with the team. But a source familiar with Johnson’s latest involvement with the Sparks says he has no intention in making any efforts to own the Lakers.

The Lakers have remained adamant that ownership will stay within the Buss family following Dr. Buss passing last February. The Lakers have set up a trust that will run by Jeanie, Jim and Johnny Buss. Jeanie had been the team’s executive vice president of business operations for 14 seasons before becoming the team’s president and governor. Jim has spent nine of his 16 years with the organization as the Lakers’ executive vice president of player personnel. Johnny holds the title as the team’s executive vice president of strategic development.

Among those who have membership stakes in the Lakers are AEG Chairman Philip Anschutz (27 percent), Patrick Soon-Shiong (four percent) and Ed Roski (three percent). But Lakers could only be sold through their two-thirds entirety.

Johnson’s latest pitch comes on the heels on his recent vow that he won’t criticize the Lakers anymore. He has questioned the Lakers’ decision to hire Mike D’Antoni as head coach last season over Phil Jackson, blamed the team’s defensive miscues on D’Antoni’s fast-paced system and critiqued Jim Buss’ competence.

“I love the franchise, but it hurts me. I watched game last night,” Johnson said, referring to the Lakers’ loss Tuesday in Minnesota that marked their seventh consecutive defeat. “I was going crazy. But I love them.”

*L.A. Daily News columnist Jill Painter contributed to this report


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