When Ben Simmons took the NBA by storm his rookie year it was a little surprising to see, as it’s rare for young point guards to take to the league with such apparent ease.
Listed at 6’10, the giant point guard is one of those players that can play multiple positions and do so many different things that it reminds many longtime NBA fans of another giant point guard. NBA legend, and current President of Basketball Operations for the Lakers, Magic Johnson.
Magic’s a Hall of Famer and he reached that point by being one of the most unique players ever. A player like Simmons could learn so much by talking about basketball with him. The problem is that as president of the Lakers, Johnson has some obvious interests outside of just making Simmons a better player that could lead to issues in the two having a discussion. Despite those problems, according to Johnson, Simmons reached out to the Lakers to see if they could arrange a meeting for Johnson to teach Simmons a little bit about being a big guard like he is.
“He reached out to me. Not to me directly. To the Lakers. To see if we could get together this summer. I said you have to clear it with the league and everybody would (have to) sign off. He wants to know how to play the position as a big guard. It’s fine, I will do that, but if everybody doesn’t sign off then we can’t get together.”
To Johnson’s credit, this doesn’t sound like him nefariously trying to get Simmons in a private gym so he can sell him on joining the Lakers or forcing his way to Los Angeles. The problem is that the Lakers aren’t really in a good place reputation wise with the rest of the league in terms of tampering with other team’s stars. They were fined in the past when it came to Paul George and his interest in the Lakers, and they’ve been accused of using back channels to try and force Anthony Davis to Los Angeles with his trade request.
So, when Johnson mentions Simmons in this way, it comes off as him working out his next free agency play to try and get Simmons to Los Angeles. After all, Simmons does have a relationship with Lakers star LeBron James as the two share an agent in Rich Paul (like Anthony Davis). The Lakers are constantly on the lookout for stars to add to their roster. It’s not crazy to see the interest the two would have with each other here. That interest is also why it would be in the Sixers, and really the Lakers best interest, to not let a meeting happen.
The Lakers can do nothing but risk earning a tampering charge by allowing Johnson to have a meeting with Simmons in this capacity. The Sixers can do nothing but risk letting Simmons have a desire to one day go join Johnson’s team if they allow a meeting between the two sides to happen. If Simmons is that crazy about learning how to play like a big guard then there are other ways to do so. He can even learn from James in the offseason. James is a more modern player anyways and someone that’s far better to emulate for today’s NBA. The risks outweigh the rewards for everyone here, but we’ll see what all parties involved decide this summer.