LOS ANGELES (AFP) – NBA officials are investigating whether any tampering rules were violated following reports of the Philadelphia 76ers’ Australian star Ben Simmons seeking a meeting with Los Angeles Lakers president Magic Johnson, ESPN said Monday.
Sixers general manager Elton Brand said Simmons had expressed an interest in talking to Johnson, but the team will not allow a workout for the Lakers. Simmons shares an agent with Lakers star LeBron James.
“He has taken interest in chatting with some of the game’s all-time greats and we’re supportive,” Brand told ESPN.
The issue began Sunday when the Lakers lost at Philadelphia and Lakers president Johnson, a legendary player in his day, told reporters that Simmons had reached out wanting to set up a chat for after the season.
“I said, ‘Hey, you’ve got to clear that with the league,’ and if everybody – the Sixers sign off, we sign off, the league signs off – fine, I will do that,” Johnson said.
”I love his game. I love his vision. I love also, too, he’s very, in terms of basketball IQ, very high.”
Brand said he spoke briefly with Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka on the subject and knows Simmons’s agent, Rich Paul, is a long-time pal of James, but isn’t worried about any tampering, even though an NBA spokesman told ESPN the league is looking into the contact between the Lakers and Simmons.
”No issue,” Brand said. ”I have a great relationship with Ben and Rich and we expect him to be a Sixer for a long time.
”I had brief dialogue with Rob Pelinka, who I’ve known for a long time, but nothing is planned. Our collective focus is on making a post-season push.
”Again, we’re not sweating this — end of story.”
Brand said he told Johnson more than a month ago he would not allow Johnson and Simmons to work out together. Both are large point guards and versatile playmakers.
The Lakers were recently in talks with New Orleans for another of Paul’s clients, Anthony Davis, but no deal was struck by last week’s trade deadline.
Johnson was fined $50,000 last year after comments made about Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo.