76ers shut down Simmons-Magic trick
The Ben Simmons-Lakers situation is just a little too friendly for Philadelphia's liking - and perhaps the NBA too.
After the Australian point guard and Lakers boss Magic Johnson spoke about their desire to work out together this summer and trade "big guard" secrets, the 76ers have shut it down and the league is investigating whether any contact has already taken place between the pair that violated league rules, per The Athletic.
Johnson, who has been fined by the NBA for tampering in the past, sent Philly fans into panic mode when he revealed the proposal at yesterday's Lakers-76ers game.
"(Ben) reached out to me, not to me directly, to the Lakers, to find out if we can get together this summer," Johnson said. "I said, 'Hey, you'd have to clear it with the league. Everybody. The Sixers sign off. We sign off. The league sign off that nothing is going on.'
"But he wants to know how to play the position as a big guard, da, da, da, da, da da. It's fine. I will do that."
Simmons, who will appear in his first All-Star Game later this month, said the similarities in both his and Johnson's game would make for an ideal partnership.
"Trying to learn from somebody like that would be huge," Simmons said. "Getting to speak to him - he's had to play the 5 and win a championship - and he's in the Hall of Fame. In terms of what position I'm in, a 6-10 point guard, I think it would help."
There's also intrigue in terms of what Johnson could do for Simmons' jump shot. With Philadelphia stacking more weapons at the deadline, Simmons' role could change, and he showed a small glimpse on Monday by attempting a rare three-pointer in the third quarter.
Johnson's shot was a liability for most of his career, but toward the end he had become respectable enough that opponents had to at least respect the possibility.
In his final three years, Johnson shot over 30 per cent from three after barely breaking 20 per cent his first nine. Simmons is 0-for-14 in his career from three after Monday's miss.
But the Aussie is going to have to keep learning his craft from the likes of Brett Brown and JJ Redick because his franchise has given the plan a firm no.
"(Lakers GM) Rob Pelinka called me and said that Ben (Simmons) wanted to talk to Hall of Famers after the season, Magic was on the list," 76ers general manager Elton Brand said Tuesday on 97.5 The Fanatic's "Gargano & Myrtetus Middays" show. "He asked for authorisation ... I said no. This was over a month ago."
Philadelphia's stance divided opinion. Many thought it was a completely reasonable response to protect their interests. Others thought it was bordering on a nanny state situation.
Perhaps what's most interesting is Johnson and Simmons talking like the idea is still on the table when Brand says he's closed the book.
- with New York Post