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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Magic's Return to Lakers Imminent, Not Finalized


INGLEWOOD, California -- Magic Johnson has been practicing with the Los Angeles Lakers for two weeks amid growing reports that his return is imminent, although the team insists nothing has been finalized.

NBC-TV reported that Johnson has already signed a $2.5 million contract for the rest of this season and sold his 5 percent ownership back to Jerry Buss, but several Laker officials call those reports inaccurate.

"He has not signed anything today or tonight," general manager Mitch Kupchak said Sunday. "Nor yesterday or Friday. Nothing has been signed."

But Lakers forward Cedric Ceballos indicated Saturday night that Johnson likely would return to the team this week.

"Tuesday's the day, all indications prove that," Ceballos said before the Lakers game at New Jersey. "He's trying to sell his percentage. He's bought about a 100-something tickets for the game. I know he wants to play in that game and warm himself up for Michael Jordan."

Jordan and the Chicago Bulls visit the Lakers Friday.

Asked on TNT about returning against the Bulls, Johnson said: "You live for moments like that."

"It's always in the rumor stage until it definitely happens," Lakers coach Del Harris said Saturday night. "But I'm on record, coast-to-coast, as saying I've always been in favor of it and our team is in favor of it."

There also is relatively little opposition from others in the league to his return.

Johnson, 36, initially retired in November 1991, after announcing he had the AIDS virus.

A 1992 comeback attempt was aborted when other players, notably Utah all-star Karl Malone, a 1992 Olympic "Dream Team" teammate of Johnson's, voiced health safety concerns.

"I think now it's 3-4 years later," said Philadelphia's LaSalle Thompson, who worked out with Johnson daily until signing with the 76ers Jan. 11. "I think everybody's a lot more cognizant of this disease and knows a lot more about it. They know you don't catch it from casual contact like that. I think there'll be a lot more understanding than there was.'

At 250 pounds, about 25 more than in 1990-91, Johnson will probably play forward instead of his old point guard position if he returns.

"Nobody wants to chase those little guards any more," Johnson told TNT. "I'm too old for that."

Bulls 93, Suns 82. In Chicago, Jordan scored 31 points as the Bulls set a franchise record with their 15th consecutive victory by beating the Phoenix Suns in the lone game Sunday. Dennis Rodman had 20 rebounds and Scottie Pippen 21 points for the Bulls, who are 38-3.

Only the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers, who went on to win an NBA-record 69 games, ever won 38 games by the midseason. ()

(For other results, see Scorecard.)