After the Lakers’ front office, LeBron James and Klutch Sports were thoroughly embarrassed by the Pelicans at this year’s trade deadline, one would think it’d be wise for all those involved to maybe take a step back when questions about players from other teams come up. Unfortunately for Magic Johnson, that thought never crossed his mind as he shared with reporters that Ben Simmons had reached out to him about working out together this summer—something he’d love to take part in.
The pairing makes sense on the surface. Simmons would not only be getting pointers from the greatest point guard in NBA history, but the advice he’d receive would be much more impactful given that Johnson would be able to tell Simmons how to make the most out of his point-forward build. It even seems like this is something he wants to do in good faith with his emphasis on approval from the league, Lakers (though I’m not sure who he’d have to ask permission from within his own organization),and Sixers
But the obvious problem with the plan is that no matter what he says to the media, Johnson is still the president of basketball operations for the Lakers and has a bit of a history tip-toeing on, and crossing over, the line of tampering. He’s been fined $500,000 for having impermissible contact with Paul George’s agent and $50,000 for complimenting Giannis Antetokounmpo. It’d be safe to assume that the Sixers would be at least mildly uncomfortable signing off on their star players spending lots of time with someone with that kind of reputation.
Philadelphia’s best hope moving forward is that Johnson’s history as an executive gives the NBA cause to deny this from happening, otherwise the franchise will be in a “damned if they do, damned if they don’t” scenario. The Sixers are stuck with either letting one of the key pieces of their young core spend quality time with the man responsible for the largest tampering fine in NBA history, or denying Simmons the right to learn from a living legend and look like a jealous partner because of it. This decision likely won’t come immediately and will continue to develop at least until the Sixers’ season ends.
Hooray, another storyline regarding the Lakers to overanalyze before, during and well after it ends up happening. Can’t wait.