It’s shaping up as Magic Johnson vs. Jerry West for grand prize, LeBron – Orange County Register

Now, Duel of the Laker Titans.

Popular as the NBA is here with two teams playing to packed houses and pulling down hundreds of millions in local TV revenue, it’s been a long time since we were actually relevant, with the Clippers still in eclipse while disappearing early in the playoffs and the Lakers coming off No. 14-14-15-14 finishes in the West.

That may be about to end. Whether it’s real or mere perception, both teams are under dynamic new management ready to rock and roll on the trade market and free agency, hoping for dramatic advances … and a real shot at the ultimate prize, LeBron James, a 2018 free agent.

Front office people aren’t normally charismatic, with top GMs such as San Antonio’s R.C. Buford all but anonymous, but the local teams have icons on the job.

The Lakers, who ran out of charisma when Kobe Bryant fired up his last 50 shots in his finale, have Magic Johnson in charge … a big reason they might beat everyone to Paul George, Indiana’s 2018 free agent … now pushing for a trade to the the bedraggled Lakers after years in which no star player would look at them.

The Clippers are actually under their same management with Jerry West tacked on, a small move that went a long way, seeming to multiply their considerable charisma.

This comes at an opportune moment with James approaching another of his many crossroads — a year from free agency with his Cavaliers once more in turmoil after the owner, whom Bron is leery of, fired the GM, whom Bron liked, amid reports that Kyrie Irving is shopping for a new home so he’s not left on the sinking ship.

However it turns out, it’s enough to keep the league salivating for a year, with both local teams expected to be on Bron’s list.

The Lakers’ plans/hopes go like this:

1. Get a point guard — Check.

That’s Lonzo Ball, the most gifted young playmaker since Jason Kidd, making him infinitely better than the maturity-challenged, shoot-first D’Angelo Russell.

As Magic’s Magic,…

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