NBA rumors: Lakers drafting Lonzo Ball over De'Aaron Fox was tension point

Josh Schrock
NBC Sports BayArea
Did Magic Johnson really prefer De'Aaron Fox over Lonzo Ball?

NBA rumors: Lakers drafting Lonzo Ball over De'Aaron Fox was tension point

Did Magic Johnson really prefer De'Aaron Fox over Lonzo Ball?

NBA rumors: Lakers drafting Lonzo Ball over De'Aaron Fox was tension point originally appeared on nbcsportsbayarea.com

Put plain and simple, the Los Angeles Lakers are an utter disaster.

After drastically underperforming in Year 1 of the LeBron James era, the Lakers are looking toward an uncertain summer where they hope to be able to woo either Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard or Klay Thompson to ride shotgun alongside James. 

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Their future got even murkier Tuesday when president of basketball operations Magic Johnson abruptly announced he was stepping down at an impromptu press conference prior to the Lakers' season finale against the Portland Trail Blazers

Johnson cited a number of reasons for stepping down. He wanted to be able to tweet about opposing players (no, not a joke), he didn't like all the "backstabbing" and most of all, he just really didn't like all the work that went into the gig. It's a high-pressure job that demands your full attention, and he just wants to be Magic Johnson.

It's been a tumultuous year in Laker Land and it ended with one of the greatest figures in NBA history making a mockery out of himself and the organization. But it appears Johnson's problems with the organization he loved didn't start when James tore his groin on Christmas Day.

No, the tension between Johnson and Lakers owner Jeanie Buss reportedly can be traced back to the 2017 NBA Draft. In February, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith reported that Buss had pushed Johnson to draft Lonzo Ball, when Johnson wanted to select Kentucky point guard De'Aaron Fox. This report, while disputed by the Lakers, reportedly became a tension point between Buss and Johnson, The Athletic's Bill Oram reported Tuesday.

Smith even said at the time that Johnson would deny the report, but rumors of Johnson preferring Fox over Ball have swirled for quite some time.

While the decision to draft Ball over Fox and Celtics wing Jayson Tatum (the No. 3 pick) can certainly be criticized, it's not as if Ball has been a bust. When healthy, Ball has shown he's a good defender with stellar court vision and the ability to lead a team. The only problem with Ball is that he's been a below-average shooter and has battled injuries which have stunted his development.

The fact that Fox has become a budding star in his sophomore season for the Kings also hasn't helped the public opinion of L.A.'s decision to draft Ball.

[RELATED: Why Magic Johnson was not built to be Lakers president, challenge Warriors]

Had the Lakers drafted Fox or Tatum, there's no question they would be in a better position to contend now with James and would have more attractive assets to offer in a potential blockbuster deal for Anthony Davis. Substituting Fox for Ball would undoubtedly make the Lakers a more attractive free agent destination, but, as has been the case for almost the entire decade, the Lakers bungled it. 

As Johnson exits and leaves the Lakers in a lurch, they have to be left wondering how things would be had they let Johnson make the pick he wanted in 2017.

The Kings, on the other hand, are undoubtedly happy Buss intervened. If she did. 

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