Magic Johnson unlikely to have role in Lakers’ free agent pitches

Former Los Angeles Laker Magic Johnson is joined by WNBA president Laurel Richie in front of Staples Center on Feb. 5, 2014, to announce that he is part of a group buying the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

Former Los Angeles Laker Magic Johnson is joined by WNBA president Laurel Richie in front of Staples Center on Feb. 5, 2014, to announce that he is part of a group buying the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

Unlike his playing days in which he made dazzling passes and clutch shots, Magic Johnson is not expected to assist the Lakers in their latest quest to return to championship contention.

Johnson suggested earlier this year he would like to help the Lakers in recruiting potential free agents. But Johnson, who is part of the ownership group that owns the Dodgers, is currently on vacation in Italy and will likely return in a couple of weeks, said a source familiar with Johnson’s itinerary. Because of that schedule, Johnson would not be around for any of the Lakers’ potential meetings with LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.

Johnson told reporters in February that he had reached out to Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak to see if he could help with recruiting efforts.

“I love them. I’m going to support them,” Johnson said. “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 sold his 4.5 ownership stake with the Lakers in 2010 and remains an unpaid vice president with the team.

“Hopefully Earvin’s looking for a second baseman,” Kupchak joked in February. “He’s always been quick to call and encourage when he was our vice president for so many years. He never said, ‘Mitch this is something I think you should do. I just want to call and touch base and what are you thinking, what do you see, is there anything I can do to help? I have called on him from time to time to help me, whether it’s ‘I want to run something past you, can you meet with a player and make a phone call for me? Even though he’s working for the Dodgers now, that has not changed.”

Johnson has always remained vocal about the Lakers in interviews and on Twitter. He has often criticized Lakers executive Jim Buss and former coach Mike D’Antoni. Upon D’Antoni’s resignation, Johnson tweeted, Happy days are here again! Mike D’Antoni resigns as the Lakers coach. I couldn’t be happier!.”

“Earvin is Earvin. It comes from the heart,” Kupchak said in February. “It’s not like there’s some agenda there that he’s trying to accomplish something. He’s not in the office everyday and he’s probably not that familiar with the guidelines, CBA and rules and how hard it is to get a deal done and what’s going on in the locker room. But he’s a fan at heart. This organization has meant the world to him and he’s meant the world to the organization. So I will never tell Earvin, ‘You have to stop doing this or not.’ When he does say something positive, I will call him up and say, ‘I appreciate you saying something nice.’ So I’m trying a little positive reinforcement versus reprimand.”

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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