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There aren’t many point guards in the mold of Ben Simmons, a 6’10”, elite athlete who is just as comfortable in the post as he is initiating the fast break.
But Magic Johnson is one of them, and the Los Angeles Lakers president told reporters Sunday, ahead of the team’s matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers, that Simmons “wants to sit down with him this summer to trade some ‘big guard’ secrets if the Sixers, Lakers and the league office all sign off,” according to Marc Stein of the New York Times.
Johnson also praised Simmons’ game:
Ben Mallis @BenMallis
Magic also showered praised upon Ben Simmons, saying “I love his game. I love his vision. I love also, too, in terms of basketball I.Q., he has very high basketball I.Q. Look at him now, the east better watch out.” https://t.co/WO5LHfSorK
Without approval, Johnson chatting up Simmons would be tampering. And given that Simmons is represented by Klutch Sports—which also represents LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the latter of whom the Lakers made serious efforts to acquire before the NBA trade deadline Thursday, to no avail—the Sixers may not be thrilled with such conversations.
The Lakers and Johnson have been fined on more than one occasion for tampering—and the Pelicans asked the NBA to investigate for tampering when Davis first announced his desire to be traded—so the organization is plenty familiar with the infraction at this point. That could be another factor in whatever decision the Sixers make regarding any conversations.
Take away the obvious tampering concerns, of course, and Simmons could learn a lot from Johnson, a Hall of Fame point guard who is one of the game’s legends. Johnson was versatile enough to play any position on the court, was one of the best passers in the game’s history and developed a solid jumper over time.
Hardwood Paroxysm @HPbasketball
I think Ben Simmons should absolutely go work out with Magic, arguably the greatest point forward of all time. He should want to. That’s awesome.
It’s Magic’s position as head of basketball operations that causes the issue.
Simmons, to this point, doesn’t have much of a jumper at all. But he can get to the rim against most defenders, is a natural passer and playmaker, and is an underrated defender given his length and athleticism. If that jumper develops, he’ll be a menace.
As it stands, he’s one of the game’s brightest young talents, and in most cases it would be completely natural for him to seek the advice of a former superstar. But given all of the context surrounding any potential meeting between Johnson and Simmons, it’s a bit more complicated.