As confetti came down in Milwaukee, Los Angeles Lakers royalty Magic Johnson had a message for the team’s franchise player. Johnson told LeBron James that Giannis Antetokounmpo along with Kevin Durant are, “coming for your throne.”
“Watch out LeBron…KD and Giannis are right there coming for your throne,” Johnson tweeted after the Bucks won the 2021 NBA Finals.
It is a bit of an odd statement given Antetokounmpo just won his first championship. James’ four titles double Durant’s current resume as the Lakers superstar looks to catch Jordan’s six rings before he retires.
Johnson would later go viral by suggesting that the Lakers need to make a run at Chris Paul. This echoes what Johnson told ESPN 710 Los Angeles during a June interview.
“No question about it. I’d tell Jeanie I’d ask some money for CP3,” Johnson explained. “It’d be perfect for LeBron, for AD, and for the role players.”
The Lakers Would Likely Need to Pull off a Sign-and-Trade to Add CP3
Johnson’s overall point is the Lakers need another star if James is going to win his fifth title while wearing the purple and gold. It is not a simple process for the Lakers to add Paul, even if the point guard makes it clear he wants to team up with his good friend.
The Lakers do not have cap space to make a major signing. Additionally, the team has as many as 10 free agents on their roster making a sign-and-trade more complicated than most teams.
Paul’s free-agent status is still technically up in the air as the point guard is widely expected to opt out of the final year of his current deal. Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus explained why the financial details of the Lakers potentially adding Paul makes it an uphill battle for L.A.
“The Lakers could clear about $21 million in cap space by either trading, waiving or renouncing everyone on the roster (including the No. 22 pick in next week’s NBA draft) except for LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Talen Horton-Tucker if they didn’t bring back any players in return,” Pincus detailed. “…Perhaps Johnson was thinking about a sign-and-trade, with the Suns acquiring one or more of Lakers free-agent guards Dennis Schroder, Alex Caruso or Horton-Tucker (also via sign-and-trade), or wings under contract like Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope? But if the Lakers added Paul via a sign-and-trade, their payroll would be hard-capped at roughly $143 million.”
Magic Has a Complicated History With LeBron
Johnson played a key role in the Lakers’ recruiting pitch to lure James to Los Angeles. James criticized the Lakers legend for abruptly stepping down in 2019.
“Personally for me, I came here to be a part of the Lakers organization, having a conversation with Magic,” James said in a May 2019 episode of HBO’s The Shop. “So, it was just weird for him to just be like, ‘Nah, I’m out of here.’ And not even have no, like [conversation], ‘Hey Bron, kiss my a**. I’m gone.’ It wasn’t even that.”
Johnson stuck by his decision to make the announcement the way he did. The former Lakers point guard explained why he opted not to have a conversation with James.
“I could’ve done it a different way. Yes, [LeBron James] is right,” Johnson told ESPN in May 2019. “But I did it my way. And that doesn’t take anything away from our relationship, or how I feel about LeBron.
“Sometimes, as a man or a woman, you’ve got to make decisions based on your own happiness. And sometimes, you just have to go out and do your thing. And that’s what I did.”