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Magic Johnson Denies LeBron James ‘Ignoring’ Luke Walton’s Play Calls

Source: Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America

When the Los Angeles Lakers signed LeBron James in free agency, the amount of media attention on the team predictable skyrocketed.

For a young team playing in a marquee market, each and every move made by the Lakers was going to be magnified tenfold given James’ standing.

Only 22 games in and head coach Luke Walton has already found himself under the media microscope. Walton’s job security was a frequent topic brought up when Los Angeles got out to a slow start and talks have continued about how long he might last despite the team’s recent success.

President of basketball operations Magic Johnson himself came out to refute a report saying that James was ignoring Walton’s play calls, according to DJ Siddiqi of CBS Sports:

“Brian got it wrong. This is all about making sure that they can say something on ESPN and everybody can just talk,” said Johnson. “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.”

Johnson’s comments have some truth to it given that James can often be found filling the lanes in transition while someone like Lonzo Ball runs the ball up. However, James will sometimes break the play if he finds a matchup worth exploiting.

Even when the 33-year-old does this, it should not be a knock on Walton given James’ talents on offense. The best player in the world should have some reign when he takes the floor and calling his own number is not an indictment on his head coach.

The storied franchise should be fortunate it employs James given their past failures in free agency. He represents their best chance to get back to their championship ways and the immediate goal is to end the five-year playoff drought.

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