NBA: Lakers didn’t tamper with 76ers’ Ben Simmons

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The 76ers and Lakers talked back and forth about Ben Simmons meeting with Magic Johnson. The teams decided it wouldn’t happen.

Then, Johnson – asked whether he enjoyed watching Simmons play – brought up Simmons wanting to meet and said he’d do so if Philadelphia and the NBA approved.

That comment sparked an investigation, and the results are in.

NBA release:

We have concluded that Magic Johnson’s statements regarding Ben Simmons do not constitute a tampering violation.  The Philadelphia 76ers initiated the contact with the Los Angeles Lakers by requesting a meeting between Johnson and Simmons.  Both organizations ultimately concluded that such a meeting did not make sense at this time but in that context, Johnson’s response to a media inquiry regarding Simmons does not run afoul of league rules.

It seems unlikely the Lakers tampered with Simmons while discussing a meeting between him and Johnson. But I thought Johnson making the potential meeting public – despite not being asked directly about it and Simmons not revealing his desire – alone constituted tampering. After all, NBA commissioner Adam Silver previously told Johnson and other executives, “Stop talking about players on other teams.” I don’t want the Lakers fined for Johnson’s comment Sunday, but it seemed more egregious his comment that drew the previous tampering fine.

Alas, the NBA’s tampering rules remain vague and arbitrarily enforced.

If you’re keeping score at home, for the Lakers’ recently that’s: three tampering violations, two warnings and now two clearances.