Now that the dust has settled and the trade deadline is behind us, it's time for Magic Johnson to go to work.
The Los Angeles Lakers face a long, arduous journey from the NBA's basement back to championship contention, and they hope a Hall of Fame great is the man to lead that rebuild.
Although we think the Lakers might have panicked by promoting Magic Johnson to president of basketball operations when they did, we also believe he can turn this storied franchise around.
Here are five steps he'll need to take to lead Los Angeles to championship glory once more.
Gary A. VasquezGary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Call Jerry West (and Kobe Bryant while you're at it)
West has built contenders everywhere he's gone in his post-playing days, most recently playing an instrumental part in the Warriors' decision not to trade Klay Thompson for Kevin Love. Although the Logo remains a Golden State consultant, one imagines he'd be more than happy to offer Magic a little advice on how to reinvigorate the Lakers — especially since his son, Ryan, is part of Los Angeles' front office.
We're not saying Magic should look to hire the elder West. But having Jerry as a sounding board would go a long way toward avoiding major mistakes in this rebuild. Call him to say hello, then keep his number on speed dial and call him every time you're even considering making a move.
As for Kobe? You know the Black Mamba's going to want to poke his head in on the Lakers sooner than later. Reaching out to Kobe first — and making it clear what you want from him — would keep Bryant in the family without letting him run roughshod on the young guys.
The last thing you want is Kobe showing up unexpectedly to practice in the middle of a losing streak to test the mettle of the young Lakers. So let Kobe know his insight is appreciated, then make sure he has an appointment when he wants to swing by the facilities.
Wait for Paul George to come to you in 2018
Magic absolutely, positively, 100-percent must avoid the mistake the New York Knicks made when they traded for Carmelo Anthony in 2011. Rather than patiently waiting for their superstar, the Knicks gutted their roster to trade for a player who made it clear he wanted to come to the Big Apple.
George is clearly unhappy in Indiana, and someone out there is telling the Lakers to hang onto their assets so they have a decent team around PG-13 should he sign with Los Angeles after next season.
One way or another, the smart money is on George wearing purple and gold for the 2018-19 season — so just wait for him to come to you.
Richard MacksonRichard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Let Luke Walton do his job — and let the GM do his
It's great that Magic wants to head down to the practice floor to show Brandon Ingram how to improve his footwork and generally share his Hall of Fame expertise. But there's a fine line between helping and meddling.
Magic's tenure in Los Angeles will depend on how well he can toe that line. The most important thing he can do as president of basketball operations is hire the right people in the right capacities to do their jobs the right way. That goes for Walton as coach, Rob Pelinka as general manager, and even Magic himself as the guy with the bird's eye view of the whole situation.
We know how successful Magic has been when he delegates. The question is whether he'll be able to take that same hands-off approach in the industry he knows best.
Getty ImagesHarry How
Get lucky in this year's draft lottery, then take Lonzo Ball
No matter how hard you try, you can't control everything in this universe. Fortunately, things tend to work out when you're the Lakers.
All the stars are aligned for a monumental summer in Los Angeles, where tanking through the regular season led to the Lakers keeping their top-three protected pick. In our ideal scenario, Magic's team in fact ends up with the second overall selection and drafts Lonzo Ball after the Celtics pick Markelle Fultz No. 1. Ball becomes a superstar overnight in Los Angeles, Fultz becomes just another guy in Boston, and the Lakers move D'Angelo Russell over to the two as a slightly undersized shooting guard and secondary playmaker.
Until 2019, that is ...
NBAE/Getty ImagesJesse D. Garrabrant
Start laying the groundwork to steal Klay Thompson from the Warriors
Beyond his intelligence and business savvy, Magic's greatest asset is being Magic Johnson. His presence alone should help the Lakers attract free agents (and hire the best front-office talent in the business).
Two years from now, Thompson could be a free agent for a Warriors team that will have to pay four superstars their fair value. Maybe he'll be sick of playing with Draymond Green at that point. Maybe Golden State will decide they can replicate Thompson's skill set with a cheaper, younger player.
Whatever the case, Thompson would be a perfect fit for a Lakers team with Paul George and Lonzo Ball — and he has a natural connection to the team through his father. Magic should be leaning on Mychal Thompson to be in Klay's ear 24/7 about how he could be the missing piece to save the Lakers in 2019.
You might argue Magic would be better off concentrating on developing home-grown talent, but let's be real: We're talking about the Lakers — free agency will always be their preferred path to finding a star. At least with Magic on board, they stand a chance of signing those players moving forward.