The Associated Press

INGLEWOOD, Calif. _ Magic Johnson, wondering if the constant travel of the NBA has placed too many demands on his life, is leaning against returning as coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday.

The newspaper said he will decide by the end of the week, perhaps as soon as Friday. The Lakers say they don't know about such plans, contending Johnson had intended to discuss his situation with them after the regular season ends April 24.

The Times said Johnson, citing restrictions on his lifestyle, estimated his chances of leaving at 70-30.

Johnson told the Times he discussed the situation with his wife, Cookie, on Sunday night after returning from his high school all-star game in Michigan and expects to meet with owner Jerry Buss and general manager Jerry West in the next few days.

"I don't know if a meeting has been set up," Bob Steiner, a spokesman for Buss, told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Buss said he expected to meet with Johnson after the season.

"I have no knowledge of any change from that," Steiner said.

Johnson told the Times he will continue to speak with his wife about the situation.

"I'll let you know at the end of the week," he told the newspaper. "Either way, I'm in it all the way or I'm out of it all the way. Like I've told her, 'We've got to think about our lives. Our life has been great. We've settled in to me being retired, we've settled in to me being around home. And now we've got to give all that up again?'

"That's what we've got to talk about because once I'm in, I'm 150 percent. That's what we've got to discuss, whether she can give that up."

John Black, the Lakers' public relations director, said he was surprised by Johnson's comments.

"I don't expect him to make an announcement before the season ends, but that could change," Black said. "As of now, he hasn't told us anything differently. So obviously, he's told the Times something different from what he's told us up to this point.

"The stuff he told the Times is news to me. I plan to ask him about the statements he made. As of now, no announcement is planned, to my knowledge. He hasn't said anything to us about moving up his timetable for a decision, which has always been after the season ends."

Johnson, 34, led the Lakers to five titles in 12 seasons. He retired in November 1991 after learning he had contracted the AIDS virus.

He succeeded Randy Pfund as coach last month, and the Lakers were 5-3 under Johnson entering last night's game against Golden State.

The Lakers were 33-41 and trailed the Denver Nuggets by four games for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot. The Nuggets played host to Phoenix last night. After last night's games, both the Lakers and Nuggets had seven games left.

The Lakers are trying to make the playoffs for an 18th straight year. Their final regular-season game is against Utah on April 24. Read Next Article