LOS ANGELES – The balcony that oversees the practice court gave Magic Johnson a clear view of the players below it. The setting seemed fitting since Johnson’s presence as the president of basketball operations has cast a looming shadow over the organization.
“It’s nice to look up there and see the Magic Man staring down,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said, grinning.
Walton then chuckled when asked if Johnson had shouted instructions from above.
“No, he’s just observing. It’s not football. We don’t get up and use a blowhorn and yell directions onto the court,” Walton said. “It’s not like he’s the crazy old uncle that’s screaming at people. He’s just observing and making his own assessments of what’s happening. We then get together and talk about it.”
Either way, the Lakers (19-41) enter Tuesday’s game against Charlotte (25-34) at Staples Center with Walton measuring his young team’s progress that goes deeper than results and box scores.
“We’re looking at how fast we play. Are we playing together? Are we playing for each other? Are we competing?” Walton said. “Are we out there making our teammates better or are we looking to get numbers for ourselves and things of that nature. We’ll be looking at and evaluating every aspect of the game.”
All of which will likely influence the Lakers’ plans for the NBA draft and free agency.
“It’ll tell us where we’re at and what we need to do in the summer,” Walton said. “It’ll tell us what we need to focus on with offseason workouts with individual players and give us a more clear map going into next season.”
The Lakers waived veteran reserve guard Jose Calderon on Monday after negotiating a buyout. Though Calderon averaged a career-low 3.3 points on 41.6 percent shooting in 12.2 minutes through 24 games and 11 starts, the Lakers valued Calderon for mentoring the team’s younger players.
“This is something we had gone to them and…