The next time Magic Johnson plays for the Lakers, he'll have a new shoe and most likely a new contract.
Johnson sat out the Lakers' 114-107 victory over the Phoenix Suns in their exhibition opener Monday night because of chronic tendinitis in his left Achilles' tendon. He won't play tonight, either, when the Lakers play the New York Knicks, as he is awaiting the arrival of a specially fitted shoe designed to cushion the strain on the Achilles.
Today, however, one of Johnson's representatives is scheduled to meet with Laker owner Jerry Buss in hopes of finalizing a new contract that will replace the existing 10-year, $25 million deal he signed with the team in 1981.
At present, Johnson is being paid $1 million a year in straight salary until 1993-94 season, with deferred payments of $1.5 million beginning in 1994.
The new deal would give him more money up front, perhaps as much as $2.5 million. That is the level Johnson is listed under the current National Basketball Assn. salary cap. Under cap rules, there may be a provision that would allow Buss to give Johnson a modest raise above that figure as well.
Buss said he and Johnson have had lunch several times in recent months, at which time Johnson made a number of requests regarding his contract, the owner said.
Earlier this summer, Buss signed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to a two-year, $5-million contract that will pay the 40-year-old Laker center $2 million this season, $3 million the next.
"I think (Johnson's) position always has been, 'I want to be paid fairly,' " Buss said. "I don't think that's an unhappy position; I think it's a normal position."
Johnson, who dropped his long-time agent, George Andrews, at the end of last season, was reluctant to discuss negotiations. He refused to say who will be meeting with Buss today, although he confirmed that his new attorney is John Argue.
"We'd prefer that everything come from him (Buss)," Johnson said.
About his Achilles' condition, Johnson said: "I'm not scared. I've been dealing with it for a while. I've got to go out there and play. I've got a job to do."
He already tried one special shoe, but it didn't help, he said.
"This shoe should take away a lot of the pounding I went through," he said.
Laker Coach Pat Riley gave free agent Jeff Lamp an extended look Monday--29 minutes--and the 6-6 swingman responded with 10 points on 4 of 6 shooting. Riley said another free agent, guard Milt Wagner, will get his shot tonight. "I thought Jeff did a great job, very efficient," Riley said. "He buried the jumper when he was open, and he's a smart player and works hard, real hard. We're looking for a shooter and he supplies us with that."