Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson has rubbished claims of LeBron James ignoring Luke Walton's playcalling and running plays of his own.
A recent report from ESPN's Brian Windhorst noted that James doesn't even look to the bench when running the point, prompting Walton to just leave him be.
But Magic has dismissed the assertion, claiming that the Lakers aren't even all that keen on having LeBron operate as the facilitator too often.
"The scouts also have noticed that when James is running the point, he rarely looks toward the bench to receive playcalls from coach Luke Walton," Windhorst wrote in an ESPN column.
"Even when he has seen them, the scouts say, he ignores them and runs the play he prefers. Walton has adjusted, and now when James is running the show, Walton will typically just let him call the game. This probably shouldn’t be considered a slight — it’s just James being James."
"This is all about making sure that they can say something on ESPN and everybody can just talk," the Lakers legend said in response via SiriusXM Radio on Thursday.
"We have a system the ball moves around, a lot of pick-and-roll plays. If you watch us play, the ball is not in LeBron James' hands all of the time. It can't be. Because you want to pass it around, you want to get into your pick-and-roll plays. But hey, we're the Lakers, people are going to be talking about us. But that's not how it's going right now."
Magic also reiterated that the Lakers aren't looking to utilize the player the way he was in Cleveland.
"We are trying to make sure that we watch his minutes but also that we don't run everything through him because now it is Cleveland all over again and we don't want that," he added. "We want to get up and down.
"Basically minutes, trying to make sure we don't overplay him and then also usage of the ball in his hands.
"We got a lot of ballhandlers so we feel we won't overuse him in terms of his ballhandling and also every play has to run through him. I think we got proven scorers—Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram [...] and then when you have two point guards like [Lonzo] Ball and [Rajon] Rondo, we don't have to have LeBron having the ball in his hands all the time."
What This Means
Well, Magic was never going to admit that LeBron ignores his coach. But there hasn't really been any backlash since Windhorst's report anyway. People still appreciate that the forward has a unique basketball IQ and can operate efficiently as a point guard without guidance, so no biggie.
The Lakers not wanting to use him as a facilitator too much, though, is understandable. They brought in players who could handle the ball for this very reason and there is a plan in place as it relates to his usage.
Fortunately or unfortunately, plans always break down when LeBron is involved, as he won't hesitate to take things over whenever he feels it's necessary.