• Magic Johnson talks about Kobe Bryant during NBA All-Star Game 2016.

Magic Johnson talks about Kobe Bryant during NBA All-Star Game 2016. (Photo : Getty Images/Elsa)

The NBA trade rumors are not only awash of deals for the deadline but also posturing for the future. The Indiana Pacers are feeling the pressure.

In a report from Sam Amick of USA Today, the Pacers are at a crossroads and a face-off between former rivals Magic Johnson and Larry Bird is imminent, but this time, as team executives.

Like Us on Facebook

"According to a person with knowledge of the meeting who spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation, that is the crossroads that Pacers president Larry Bird now faces. If the Thursday deadline comes and goes and the Pacers roster remains the same, the pressure rises in a significant way," Amick wrote.

Pacers' superstar Paul George has recently declined to commit to an extension which will keep him in Indiana. He maintains that he needs to play for a contender. Since the Pacers are struggling to keep their playoff spot now, Bird's job is definitely cut out for him.

Amick elaborated the Magic vs. Bird narrative: "The fact that the Lakers are in the process of trying to land George right now, with new lead executive Magic Johnson moving fast to fill that superstar hole that Kobe Bryant left behind, only makes these next two days all the more compelling."

The Lakers are likely to be very aggressive now as it is speculated that their hiring of Magic Johnson (and subsequently Rob Pelinka, Kobe Bryat's agent as GM) was a reaction to the failure or reluctance of Jim Buss and former GM Mitch Kupchak to close the DeMarcus Cousins deal. Mike Prada of SB Nation narrated the timeline.

"The Lakers were among those in the running to acquire Cousins from the Kings, but reportedly bowed out when the Kings asked for 2016 No. 2 selection Brandon Ingram. A day later, Cousins is in New Orleans and Buss and Kupchak are out of a job. That does not seem like a coincidence," Prada wrote.

That led to this hypothesis: "We don't know how Johnson will run the franchise, but there's enough evidence to suggest that the decisive pursuit of stars will be the Lakers' guiding philosophy again. There's already one report that none of the Lakers' collection of young players are safe if the right star becomes available."

Johnson has no sentimental connection with any of the Lakers' players right now. He has a clear mandate to win, whatever the cost. Magic knows all too well that in the NBA, you need a star to win and in his eyes, the Lakers don't have that. Now, it's his job to change that.