Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations Earvin "Magic" Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka Thursday shared optimism about the upcoming 2018-19 season with LeBron James and clarified that point guard Lonzo Ball has been fully medically cleared following offseason surgery at the team's training facility in El Segundo.
"It's been, really, an exciting time for Lakers' fans --Laker nation -- since the signing of the free agents, of course headlined by the greatest player in the world: LeBron James," Johnson stated out his opening remarks in front of a throng of cameras and a packed audience of sports reporters.
Johnson repeatedly referenced the team's offseason unorganized workouts and pickup games, singling out James and Rajon Rondo as two veteran leaders that had instantly improved the team's preparation and knowledge base.
"It was really a joy to watch all our player to go up and down and play," Johnson said about the team's closed door offseason scrimmages. "We're excited and can't wait until Monday, Media Day, but also Tuesday when we actually get started."
Pelinka provided his usual story telling charm and even drew a wide smile, public compliment and fist bump from the Lakers' president of basketball operations for the general manager's ability to answer questions by weaving together stories.
The message from the Lakers' front office, though, was about the addition of championship experience to the roster in the form of JaVale McGee, Rondo and, of course, James.
At one point, Johnson referred to Rondo as the "right mentor" for Ball, and the five-time NBA champion with the Lakers in the 1980s revealed that signing Rondo had provided a solution to his problem of finding Ball a mentor.
Pelinka, meanwhile, chimed in by sharing insights and marveling at an instance when he was the fourth man in a room with Johnson and Rondo talking point guard basketball with Ball.
Speaking of Ball, Pelinka clarified that Ball has been medically cleared to take part in all basketball activities. However, the team was talking a patient approach and easing the 20-year-old back into full five-on-five basketball due to offseason surgery.
Ball missed 30 of 82 games in his rookie season, so the team taking a cautious approach to his return from injuries is understandable.
While Thursday's media gathering was never meant to provide any breaking news, Johnson and Pelinka stepping up to podium helped express the team's excitement at starting the 2018-19 campaign.
Next, the Lakers hold Media Day on Monday, followed by a five-day training camp that leads directly into the team's preseason opener on Sept. 30. The Lakers open their 2018-19 season on Oct. 18 against the Portland Trailblazers in Oregon before returning home two days later for James' highly-anticipated regular season debut at Staples Center on Oct. 20.