The Lakers need to stop tampering with Ben Simmons and other NBA stars


There’s nothing the Lakers' franchise loves more than distracting everyone from the team’s underwhelming on-court play for the last nine seasons and leaking rumors about all the star players that want to join their squad.

Before the Lakers suffered a 23-point smackdown at the hands of the Sixers on Sunday, Magic Johnson, the team’s president of basketball operations, spoke to the media in a pregame presser.

Johnson let it slip that Ben Simmons wants to meet with him this summer to discuss some of the secrets of being a power forward-sized point guard with preternatural passing ability:

Elton Brand confirmed this on 97.5 The Fanatic today and he rightly declined to give Magic and Lakers GM Rob Pelinka permission to do that. I’m glad that Brand dunked all over Magic’s face with that smug grin he’s been wearing for 40 years. Why should Brand let Simmons meet with him? What does Simmons tangibly gain from speaking with Magic?

“Hey, throw it to the open player when he can get an easy shot.”

Wow, great insight from Magic, the NBA’s foremost Captain Obvious, known for giving LeBron James the astute advice that he “needs to be LeBron.” would be different if Magic was in the same position of Hakeem Olajuwon, who has spent the last decade working out with NBA players in the offseason. Olajuwon is a paid trainer. Johnson, conversely, is a head decision maker for an organization notorious for tampering with other franchises’ players. Are the people in the NBA league office just asleep? Does Magic Johnson believe the fans of the league are this naive?

To make matters worse, Brand claimed that the talks with Pelinka happened over a month ago. Why is Magic bringing this entire situation up now? Is he trying to save face for the disastrous way the Lakers played themselves in the Anthony Davis sweepstakes? What a shame that the Pelicans didn’t want to take back a smorgasbord of role players and crappy picks for a 25-year-old superstar! Magic strategically dropped this morsel of info that will have bandwagon Lakers fans across the globe salivating and photoshopping Simmons into a Lakers jersey for the next half-dozen years (if they haven’t already been doing that).

Listen, I support players’ agency to take the fate of their careers in their own hands, but I can’t sit idly aside while the Lakers and Magic just pull their “Um, we’re the Lakers and Magic is our president so every star should want to play here” card. It’s not a big market vs. small market thing. It’s a “Why do the Lakers get to do whatever they want?” thing. The Lakers, Magic, and LeBron can all fade into oblivion for all I care.

Just like I’m not going to police who Simmons is dating (by the way: the Sixers are 14-2 in games Kendall Jenner has attended this season), I’m not going to yell that Simmons “owes it” to Philadelphia to stay here. If he wants to flee to Hollywood and go full Fresh Prince, that’s fine, but it’s just infuriating that the Lakers plant their seeds of tampering throughout the league constantly with almost no serious repercussions from NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

This needs to go beyond the slap-on-the-wrist fines that have been given to the Lakers for their tampering with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Paul George. Silver had no issue pushing Sam Hinkie out of the Sixers’ front office. Does he have the guts to do the same thing to one of the greatest players the NBA’s ever seen and basketball’s marquee franchise?

These lines need to be posted on three billboards outside the league’s headquarters in Manhattan:

Lakers tampering with another star.

Still no consequences?

How come, Commissioner Silver?

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