Strange: Johnson being the one to reveal Simmons’ desire. Simmons plays for the 76ers, and Johnson – who has sparked multiple tampering fines – is the Lakers’ president.
Very strange: Johnson bringing it up as a possibility after a team – Philadelphia or Los Angeles, depending whom you believe – put the kibosh on it.
76ers general manger Elton Brand on 97.5 The Fanatic:
Sean Tribe and Liam Tribe – these are Ben Simmons’ brothers – wanted him this offseason to be around all-time greats, talk to champions about their preparation, their work ethic, their focus, what made them champions. So, Michael Jordan, Kobe – these type-level of players. Dr. J. Get him with these ultimate just winners.
And somehow, Magic got in the mix. And they asked me. Rob Pelinka called me and said, “Hey, we’re hearing Ben wants to talk to Hall of Famers, championship-level players, and Magic’s on the list. We need authorization for him to meet up.”
And I said no. This was over a month ago.
We didn’t sign off on whatever they’re talking about. So, if Ben and his family say, “Hey, we do want to Magic about being a 6-9 point guard,” I don’t mind going there and being there with him if I have to. But we didn’t agree to that.
Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times:
These are two very different stories coming from Brand and out of Los Angeles. Did the 76ers try to set up a meeting and have the Lakers say they were uncomfortable with it? Did Simmons’ camp – maybe including his agent, Rich Paul, who also represents Lakers superstar LeBron James – try to orchestrate the meeting and get shut down by Philadelphia?
At least Brand put his name behind his comments. The story out of Los Angeles seems fishy. If the 76ers initiated the conversation, why would Lakers say no? It’d be a great recruiting opportunity. And if they the Lakers actually said no, why would Johnson bring it up yesterday as a possibility?
Really, I thought his public comments yesterday on Simmons alone were enough to violate tampering rules. It’s not as if Johnson were asked about Simmons’ desired meeting, which wasn’t even public at that point. Johnson was asked about watching Simmons play then brought up Simmons wanting a meeting. NBA commissioner Adam Silver warned Johnson, “Stop talking about players on other teams.”
If Johnson went too far in his press conference, that’s a relatively minor issue. It might get him fined as a repeat violator, but that comment obviously isn’t persuading Simmons to join the Lakers. But if there’s more to this, that’s on the NBA to discover in its investigation.