NBA Rules Lakers' Magic Johnson Didn't Tamper with 76ers' Ben Simmons

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistFebruary 12, 2019

FILE - At left, in a Jan. 2, 2019, file photo, Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons is shown in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns, in Phoenix. At right, in a March 8, 2018, file photo, Magic Johnson attends an NCAA college basketball game in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 men's tournament, in Las Vegas. The NBA is going to investigate whether league rules were broken when Philadelphia's Ben Simmons inquired about meeting with Los Angeles Lakers president Magic Johnson for playing tips. League spokesman Mike Bass said Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, that the NBA will look at the matter. (AP Photo/File)
Uncredited/Associated Press

The NBA has ruled that Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson did not tamper with Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons.

Kyle Neubeck of the Philly Voice shared the league's official statement on the situation Tuesday:

"We have concluded that Magic Johnson’s statements regarding Ben Simmons do not constitute a tampering violation. The Philadelphia 76ers initiated with the Los Angeles Lakers by requesting a meeting between Johnson and Simmons. Both organizations ultimately concluded that such a meeting did not make sense at this time but in that context, Johnson’s response to a media inquiry regarding Simmons does not run afoul of league rules."

This comes after Marc Stein of the New York Times reported Johnson said Simmons wanted to meet with him to discuss "big guard" secrets during the offseason.

Tampering charges would be nothing new for the Lakers. The NBA fined them $500,000 in August 2017 after general manager Rob Pelinka contacted the agent of Paul George despite being warned against it. The league also fined them $50,000 in June following Johnson's comments about Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Following Anthony Davis' trade request, the New Orleans Pelicans released a statement asking that the league "strictly enforce the tampering rules associated with this transaction" before ultimately not trading him to the Lakers or anyone else prior to last Thursday's deadline.

As for this specific situation, 76ers general manager Elton Brand told 97.5 The Fanatic on Monday: "Rob Pelinka called me and said that Ben [Simmons] wanted to talk to Hall of Famers after the season; Magic was on the list. He asked for authorization... I said no. This was over a month ago."

ESPN's Ramona Shelburne provided further details:

Simmons is under contract for the 2019-20 season and could become a restricted free agent in 2020-21, but it is understandable the 76ers wouldn't be thrilled about the Lakers talking with him. He shares the same agent, Rich Paul, as LeBron James and Davis, and he could theoretically join Los Angeles down the line.

When speaking about the situation with the 76ers, Johnson praised Simmons' game and didn't focus on him possibly joining the Purple and Gold:

It would make sense for the 6'10" Simmons to want to learn from the 6'9" Johnson as he develops in the NBA. The latter is a Hall of Famer, five-time champion and three-time NBA Finals MVP, and he is one of the best players in league history. He's one of the few people who could relate to Simmons as he navigates his career as a tall guard and facilitator.

While Brand made sure the meeting won't happen, the Lakers don't have to worry about another tampering penalty.

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