Magic Johnson has sparked suggestions of tampering with comments about Aussie superstar Ben Simmons.
The LA Lakers boss was full of praise for Simmons ahead his team’s clash with the 76ers on Monday.
“I love his game,” Johnson told reporters.
“I love his vision, I love also, in terms of his basketball IQ. Very high basketball IQ. And look at ‘em now. The East better watch out.”
Johnson also revealed Simmons had sounded him out about working together this off-season, but appeared to realise his comments would cause some controversy with league officials.
“(Ben) reached out to me, not to me directly — to the Lakers — to find out if we could get together this summer,” Johnson said.
“I said, hey, you gotta clear it with the league. Everybody, (if) the Sixers sign off, and we sign off, and the league signs off — there’s not nothing going on — but 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.”
His comments sparked some suggestions of ‘tampering’, but Johnson was quick to dismiss that notion.
Simmons is still years away from becoming a free agent, but league rules prevent other teams from trying to recruit players while they’re still contracted.
Johnson has previously been fined $500,000 for having ‘impermissible contact’ with Paul George’s agent and $50,000 for complimenting Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The 76ers would probably be a bit concerned about the prospect of Simmons teaming up with the Lakers boss before he’s allowed to do so.
Magic Johnson Out Here Tampering With Ben Simmons Now https://t.co/oa5O6mLrvF .
— Front Page Buzz (@frontpagebuzz) February 10, 2019
— For The Win (@ForTheWin) February 10, 2019
So within the past few hours we have the Knicks potentially tampering via their tickets renewal campaign, and Magic asking the league office's permission to talk with Ben Simmons with obviously no strings attached *taps nose*.
— Morten Stig Jensen (@msjnba) February 10, 2019
The tampering implications of Magic's comments are beyond obvious. And he is too smart to accidentally let that slip out. He just put the 76ers / NBA in a position where they will be the bad guys if Ben Simmons is denied a chance to workout with the man he is most compared
— Ben Mallis (@BenMallis) February 10, 2019
I expect Ben Simmons to get extended with Sixers as is typical. I think the league would have a major tampering issue if he went to Lakers so soon. They already have to be wary of the Lebron-Rich Paul connection & tampering.
— Dave (@eaglesdiehard) February 10, 2019
Embid stars as 76ers down Lakers
Joel Embiid amassed 37 points and 14 rebounds as a new-look Philadelphia franchise put paid to LeBron James and the Lakers 143-120.
Tobias Harris also scored 22 points in his second game with the 76ers, while Simmons was quieter than usual with eight points, three rebounds and seven assists.
Of note, the Australian star attempted the first 3-point shot of his fledgling NBA career, the wide open jumper rimming out.
JJ Redick added 21 points for the Sixers, who have won two straight after acquiring Harris and four others at Thursday’s trade deadline.
Jimmy Butler finished with 15 points in front of a packed Philly crowd that brought a playoff-like feel to the nationally televised game.