Warriors' Joe Lacob Fined $50K for Tampering After Ben Simmons Comments

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IISeptember 22, 2021

Golden State Warriors' owner Joe Lacob, right, talks with team president and chief operating officer Rick Welts before an NBA basketball game against the Portland Trail Blazers in San Francisco, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
AP Photo/Tony Avelar

The NBA announced Wednesday that it has fined Golden State Warriors governor Joe Lacob $50,000 for violating the league's anti-tampering rule following his comments regarding Philadelphia 76ers point guard Ben Simmons, who has reportedly requested a trade.

NBA Communications @NBAPR

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The comments in question were made to Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle. Lacob referenced a "Defensive Player of the Year candidate in Philadelphia" and said the following:

"I think we are always looking at everything to see if we can improve our team. We would always look," Lacob said.

Lacob added:

"In some ways, it doesn't really fit what we're doing. He makes a lot of money. And, can he finish games? I don't know. He's very talented. The problem is: We have Draymond. Draymond and him are very similar in the sense that neither one really shoots and they do a lot of the playmaking. That's one issue. The salary structure is another."

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Tuesday that Simmons does not intend to report to 76ers training camp or play another game for the franchise.

In addition, the three-time All-Star reportedly hasn't spoken with the team since last August, when these sentiments were relayed to team brass.

Article 35A of the NBA's Constitution and By-Laws clearly states the league's anti-tampering stance when it comes to players under contract:

"No person may, directly or indirectly, (i) entice, induce, persuade, or attempt to entice, induce or persuade, any Player who is under contract to, or whose exclusive negotiating rights are held by, any other Member of the Association to enter into negotiations for or relating to his services or negotiate or contract for such services or (ii) otherwise interfere with any such employer-employee relationship (or prospective employer-employee relationship in the case of a Player subject to exclusive negotiating rights) of any other Member of the Association."

Simmons is under contract with the 76ers through the 2024-25 season.

Rumors connecting Simmons and the Warriors have circulated in the past. Per Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area on Aug. 31, members of the Warriors organization are reportedly "divided" on whether Simmons could fit with Dubs forward Draymond Green:

"The Warriors, according to sources, are divided on the subject. Some see great potential in having two skilled players thriving in the ball-movement principles, especially in transition. Simmons also happens to be six years younger than Green.
"Others, however, believe having two non-shooters on the court is too crippling for an offense, even with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, to overcome, particularly in the postseason."

Ultimately, Poole didn't envision Simmons in a Warriors jersey:

"It's hard to envision an offer appealing enough for the Warriors to deal for Simmons. It's even harder to envision them trading Green against Curry's wishes. Doesn't mean it can't happen, just that such a move would raise eyebrows at Chase Center and send mixed signals around the league.
"Can't imagine CEO Joe Lacob and team president Bob Myers are willing to play that game."

Simmons will be taking the court for his fifth NBA season this year. In addition to his three All-Star appearances, the 25-year-old has made two All-NBA Defensive teams and the 2019-20 All-NBA Third Team. He averaged 14.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, 6.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game last year.

Simmons struggled in the playoffs, however, notably averaging just 6.3 points per game in the 76ers' final three matchups of their second-round series loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

The Warriors' 39-33 record was good enough for eighth in last year's Western Conference standings, but they lost twice in the play-in tournament and missed out on the playoffs. Still, their season was a vast improvement from their 15-50 mark the year before, when injuries forced the team to play short-handed all season.

This year's team will welcome back five-time All-Star shooting guard Klay Thompson from injury, and a pair of rookie lottery picks (Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody) will also be in the mix.