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Los Angeles Lakers great Magic Johnson has revealed that he hopes his former team “lose every game” this season in order to contend for a high lottery pick in next year’s NBA Draft.
Johnson was speaking at a promotional event in New York City on Tuesday and he believes that his former team would benefit from losing enough games this season to grab a high Draft pick as they continue their rebuilding process.
“I hope the Lakers lose every game,” Johnson said, according to Newsday. “Because if you’re going to lose, lose. I’m serious.”
The Lakers beat the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night to improve to 6-16 for the season but they remain amongst the bottom pack across the entire league as they struggle with injuries and lack of quality and depth on their roster.
Nevertheless, Kobe Bryant believes that Johnson was speaking as an owner not a player and he doesn’t see the Lakers tanking this season.
“He’s used to being an owner. He’s an owner of the Dodgers. He was an owner of the Lakers. That’s speaking from an owner’s perspective. I think the fans – or hopefully some of them – are probably smart enough to understand his perspective as an owner. I certainly am.
“Magic is one of the most competitive players of all time. He doesn’t want to lose. From an owner’s perspective, his opinion is to get top picks and to be able to use those as leverage to trade and get a competitive team and so on. From where I’m sitting, I just look at his point of view.”
Bryant added: “I don’t see teams tanking. It doesn’t happen. Maybe there are certain teams in the league — and this is not one of them — where ownership sits up there in their office and they’re crossing their fingers quietly and hoping. But the players themselves? Never. Players play. Players play and players try to win every single game. That’s just what we do.”
Neither Nick Young nor coach Byron Scott agreed with Johnson’s remarks either as both insisted that the coaching staff and players are not looking to lose games this season. After finishing with a 27-55 record last year, the worst in the 82-game record in Lakers history, they are desperate to improve even if it affects their Draft hopes.
The Lakers are expected to have substantial salary-cap space this upcoming off-season with Bryant, Young and Ryan Kelly the only three men on the current roster with guaranteed contracts beyond this season.