NBA: Lakers Cleared Of Ben Simmons Tampering Charges, Brand Apologizes
The Los Angeles Lakers have been cleared of alleged tampering charges. The whole issue came about after Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers had reportedly approached Earvin “Magic” Johnson. It turns out that the top pick of the 2016 NBA Draft wanted to get some tips from the NBA legend on how to become an elite guard.
Sixers general manager Elton Brand apparently saw it differently, believing that Simmons had reached out due to a different reason. The thought of a workout was the initial impression that it gave to Brand, hence the reason behind the investigation made by the NBA.
According to NBA.com, Johnson did not break any league tampering rules. Also, a workout with the Lakers did not make sense at this point of the season – especially with the NBA trade deadline passing The trade deadline ended last Feb. 7.
For the misconception, Brand issues an apology to Johnson for the whole mess. He also revealed that Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka followed protocol, initially seeking authorization for Simmons to talk with the Lakers great before proceeding.
True enough, Simmons potential interest in joining the Lakers at this stage of the season was totally off sync. But one cannot blame the Sixers for being suspicious since tampering has been given closer attention in recent months. Also, there is the angle where Simmons’ agent is also LeBron James’ man in Rich Paul.
The Lakers have had their share of tampering-related issues. The first one involved Paul George where Pelinka had reportedly made contact with Paul George. This resulted in the Lakers paying a hefty fine of $500,000, ESPN reported.
Earlier this month, Johnson also drew a $50,000 fine for praising Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo. It was adjudged another violation of the NBA’s anti-tampering rule.
With two tampering whammies, the Lakers now know better and a third one places the Lakers in a bad light. Further, they already have enough on their plate – mostly an offshoot of the failed Anthony Davis trade deal.
With the mood somber over in Hollywood, Johnson has started to explain to the players the direction of the Lakers and why the trade came about. LeBron James and Kyle Kuzma were among the players who understood the moves made while some were not yet totally sold.
The Lakers are trying to make the playoffs this 2018-19 NBA season. They tote a 28-29 win-loss record, good for 10th place behind the eighth-place Sacramento Kings (30-26) and the Los Angeles Clippers (31-27).