AP Photo/Chris Szagola

NBA investigating Lakers again for tampering, this time with Ben Simmons


Not strange: Ben Simmons wanting to meet with Magic Johnson. Johnson is the greatest tall point guard of all-time, and Simmons obviously fits the mold.

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?

The least surprising development is Johnson getting entangled in yet another tampering mess. He keeps doing this.

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.

Heat: Bam Adebayo, Goran Dragic doubtful for Game 2 of NBA Finals

Heat players Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic
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Bam Adebayo‘s and Goran Dragic‘s injuries… not looking great for the Heat approaching Game 2 of the NBA Finals.


This is a disaster for Miami. The Lakers dominated Game 1, and now the Heat have two starters hobbled at best. At worst and more likely, Adebayo and Dragic are out.

Adebayo would be the bigger loss. Miami was completely overmatched when facing Anthony Davis without a center. Kelly Olynyk and Meyers Leonard can try to keep up, but they’re far from great solutions.

At least the Heat have more options at point guard. Kendrick Nunn can get an elevated role (especially after excelling in garbage time of Game 1). Jimmy Butler can become the de facto point guard. Tyler Herro can also play the position. But Dragic was playing so well during Miami’s run through the Eastern Conference. This is also a major setback.


Report: Tyronn Lue ‘early favorite’ to become Clippers head coach

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Doc Rivers is gaining momentum in the 76ers’ coaching search.

As for the job Rivers left behind with the Clippers… Clippers assistant and former Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue, unsurprisingly, has the inside track.

Marc Stein of The New York Times:

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The Clippers are planning to interview other candidates, starting soon, sources said.

The New Orleans Pelicans are planning to interview Lue in the near future too, sources said.

Lue would be a sensible hire. He has championship experience, which would help the Clippers hit the ground running in a make-or-break season before Kawhi Leonard and Paul George can become unrestricted free agents. Lue managed stars in LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. The Clippers must improve their chemistry around their stars. And the last time Lue got promoted from assistant to head coach, his team won a title.

New Orleans also has an appealing job. But the Clippers are far closer to championship contention. And if both teams want Lue, I bet Clippers owner Steve Ballmer would outspend Pelicans owner Gayle Benson.

Still, the Clippers are conducting a coaching search. Other candidates could emerge. This isn’t necessarily Lue’s job for the taking.

How long would he wait on L.A. if the Pelicans make an offer? Lue has shown he values being entrusted.

Report: 76ers focused on Doc Rivers and Mike D’Antoni in coaching search

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The 76ers appeared focused on Mike D’Antoni in their coaching search.

Then, Doc Rivers surprisingly became available.

The former Clippers coach met with the 76ers and is now in the center of the conversation.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

For the Sixers now, the focus is on Rivers and D’Antoni, a source told ESPN. A decision is expected this week.

Rivers would be an easier fit with this roster than D’Antoni, whose style doesn’t appear to work as well with both Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Rivers also looks like he’d help Philadelphia take the next step.

But that seemed like it’d be true with the Clippers and wasn’t.

Tyronn Lue’s candidacy with the 76ers has clearly faded. Could he join the Clippers, Rockets or Pelicans? If Philadelphia hires Rivers, maybe D’Antoni still lands with the Pacers?

Rivers’ availability has definitely thrown a wrench in the coaching carousel.

Victor Oladipo denies trade rumor he wants out of Indiana

Victor Oladipo
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It was a trade rumor that kind of came out of nowhere — maybe more as a thought exercise for Celtics fans hoping to move on from Gordon Hayward — but it got traction: Victor Oladipo reportedly wanted out of Indiana.

Not true, Oladipo said.

Oladipo jumped on Instagram Live with rapper Fat Joe and shot down the rumors (hat tip Clutch Points):

“I’m a Pacer. I’m a Pacer…

“Those rumors on the internet, I don’t know where they’re coming from, I’m just focused on getting my knee right for next year.”

He said later in the interview he wants a ring, he wants “hardware” because that is needed to show you are one of the greats, and he would consider leaving the Pacers to get it. But that wasn’t a short-term thing. (Also, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Allen Iverson, Steve Nash, John Stockton, Elgin Baylor and a lot of other guys would like to talk with you about that attitude.)

Oladipo returned mid-season from his knee injury to a Pacers’ team that finished as the four seed in the East but got bounced in the first round of the playoffs by the eventual Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat.

Oladipo never quite returned to his All-NBA form after coming back from injury and averaged just 14.5 points a game in the 19 regular season games he did play. Oladipo is owed $21 million next season, the last year of his current deal.

Whether he wants out of Indiana or not, at $21 million and with questions about just what level of player he is post-injury, there is not much of a trade market for Victor Oladipo. Indiana more than likely runs it back under a new coach — who has yet to be chosen — and banks on a healthy Oladipo helping the team make the next step.