Should the Sixers Allow Ben Simmons to Work With Magic Johnson?

Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Rhetorical question:

If you had the chance to learn from Earvin Johnson, would you do it?

Of course you would. Magic is a five-time NBA Champion and Hall of Famer. That’s why the question is rhetorical.

Problem is, he’s also the Lakers’ President of Basketball Operations, so when he revealed Sunday that Sixers point guard Ben Simmons had expressed interest in working with him this summer, it set off conflict of interest-related alarm bells in Philly minds.

Here’s the pregame clip that got everybody talking on Sunday:

Said Magic:

“He reached out to me, not to me directly – to the Lakers – to find out if we could get together this summer. I said, ‘hey you have to clear it with the league.’ Everybody, the Sixers sign off, we sign off, the league signs off, that 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. But I love his game. I love his vision. I love that he’s very-high basketball IQ. Look at him now, the East better watch out. This is a stacked team.”

Reaction after the jump.

On the surface, I think the knee-jerk Philly fan and media response might go something like this:

“Hmm.. Ben Simmons wants to get better. He wants to learn from a Hall of Famer who played the game the same way he does.” 

Who is arguing against that? Nobody, on the surface.

But you’ve got Magic as the Lakers’ prez, LeBron James is represented by the same agency (Klutch), and people seem to think this “Simmons is leaving for Los Angeles” thing is a given. That’s the three-fold complication, because beyond being a tricky conflict of interest, it could very well be outright collusion in an attempt to convince Ben to move to Los Angeles after his rookie deal expires in Philadelphia.

Jack McCaffery asked Ben about Magic’s comments after the game and Ben said this:

“Trying to learn from somebody like that would be huge. Getting to speak to him, he’s been in multiple situations where he had to play the five and won a championship. (He’s in) the Hall of Fame, just one of those guys, in terms of what position I’m in, a 6’10” point guard.”

Jack asked Ben if he intends to receive permission from the Sixers to do so:

“I’m not focused on that right now. I’m focused on my team and what’s going on, so maybe. Who knows.”

That’s about as much of an answer as you’d expect.

I know it’s pretty easy for the Sixers to say, “no, you aren’t doing this,” but you would obviously like to keep Ben happy by honoring his wishes. Shutting the door right off the bat doesn’t accomplish anything, does it? It’s not so clear-cut for the Sixers’ front office.

If you sit down with Ben, you explain why you have reservations about training with a guy who is a president of another team, and reiterate that you’d like Ben to commit long-term to Philadelphia. If he can give you some sort of reassurance, then maybe you sign off on it. Or, maybe you already know that he has no interest in being here long-term, so you just let him train with Magic, see what he learns, and use it to your benefit until he inevitably takes off. That’s theoretical.

For context, here’s Ben’s contract status, via Spotrac:

In a perfect world, you would ask Ben to sign a contract extension before going out to LA to work with Magic and LeBron, but you can’t really do that. Ben is eligible to sign his rookie extension this July, but if he doesn’t, he becomes a restricted free agent in July of 2020. It’s a smart play by Johnson, because he’s putting the burden on the Sixers to make the decision as to whether or not this summer training should be allowable. The ball is in Philly’s court.

The NBA can right the ship and prevent the Sixers from looking like the bad guy here by simply stepping in and saying, “we are not allowing this because it is fairly overt collusion and/or tampering.” After all, LA has been fined twice in recent years for tampering (Giannis and Paul George). And if the league steps in, Simmons can’t be upset with Elton Brand and Brett Brown, because it wasn’t their decision.

Adam Silver, you’re up.

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  • Ingy February 11, 2019 at 10:29 am


  • Magically delicious February 11, 2019 at 10:31 am

    seeing how Earvin Johnson is about to be his GM I see now reason not to let the halfie Aussie work out with him. Might as well embrace the hate of Simmons 2 years ahead of the curve because HE GONE

  • Esports are the future February 11, 2019 at 10:31 am

    Would you let Sub-Zero train with Shan Tsung?

  • Kyle Stinks February 11, 2019 at 10:45 am

    He’s restricted Kevin. He’s set to get a max and will be given a max. So he isn’t going anywhere for 5 years. Lets stop with the “He could leave after his rookie deal!!!!” thing. He cant leave after his rookie deal unless the Sixers don’t want to max him out. Now that we got that out of the way, lets discuss how Ben wants to play in LA, and how him leaving after his second contract is a real thing that isnt exactly a huge secret. Wouldnt you prefer Ben gets help from one of the best players of all time so that he can be the best he can be for the time that he is here? How long do you expect this team to contend? Longer than 5 years? Probably not. Embiid, while surprisingly healthy this season and last season may eventually break down since he is huge and playing a lot of minutes. Simmons, may leave whether he works out with Magic or not after that second contract. There is a reason Elton Brand is going for it now. He knows this isnt something that could last a decade. Thats not how the league works. The Warriors are breaking up after a 5 year run. The Sixers run is now. Let Ben go hangout with Magic and if he wants to go to LA in 5 years, hopefully he leaves 1-3 trophies here when he does. At the end of the day however, the league will probably wonder how Magic helping an All Star on another team makes sense for the team he is currently the GM of and block this. Anyway, enjoy your day.

    • Kevin Kinkead February 11, 2019 at 12:08 pm

      I understand that, but his contract situation doesn’t prevent another Anthony Davis situation from happening. There’s always drama on the horizon.

      I’m not saying that’s Ben’s play, or that he specifically wants out, it’s just more about the concept of working with the Lakers via the MJ conflict of interest than any timeline related to Ben’s second contract or impending RFA status. The thing still reeks because of the Klutch connection and you know Silver won’t step in because of his past “actions” involving the Sixers.

      • Kyle Stinks February 11, 2019 at 12:38 pm

        All I ask is that when writing about Ben Simmons you educate the public to the fact that the team determines whether he is here in a year or not. I’m tired of people not understanding this. I dont really want him working with Magic either, but it also doesn’t matter in the near future. Will he leave in 5 years….maybe. Lets worry about that then.

        • Ben Simmons, Future Laker February 11, 2019 at 2:28 pm

          He’s going to be a Laker the second his rookie deal is up. The guy wants out and wants to be in LA where his “brother” LeBron is and his pseudo-celebrity girlfriend wants to be.

          • Kyle Stinks February 11, 2019 at 3:53 pm

            OK….so say the Lakers offer him the max. Since he’s a RESTRICTED FREE AGENT, that means the Sixers can, and will, match the offer sheet and he has to stay here. Do you understand this? Yes? Ok cool. He will be here for the next 5 years. So your handle, might be correct, but it wont be with the contract directly after the Rookie deal. Thank you for your time.

    • Booooooooooo February 11, 2019 at 2:12 pm

      Or he could just sign the QO and forgo having to get hamstrung into a contract?

      I swear the commenters on this site are becoming as fiercely stupid as the “talent*

      • Kyle Stinks February 11, 2019 at 4:12 pm

        Yeah…..he could….but players don’t really do that very often…especially when the team they are playing for is a legit contender. That is a good point though.

    • phil theecolards February 12, 2019 at 11:10 am

      The reality is, if Ben REALLY wants to leave, he can. It will get ugly, but if dont wanna be here, he wont be here, bottom line. So stop saying “we have him for 5 years”, because its just not true……And Klinker is correct.

  • So Taguchi - Phillies Legend February 11, 2019 at 11:01 am

    What really needs to happen is the NBA needs to grow a set and not allow a active player have ties to an agency like Lebron has with Klutch. I don’t know how this would be done…people smarter and with more time on their hands can figure it out. It was rotten when they strong-armed the Cavs into that huge deal with Tristan Thompson and when the Lakers gave absurd money to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to help woo Lebron…and with the Anthony Davis move and the Ben stuff down the road its only getting murkier.

  • The pickle man February 11, 2019 at 11:07 am

    No way I’ll let Ben near that fat snake magic .

  • tc3 February 11, 2019 at 11:09 am

    Robert kraft annoys me

  • SH February 11, 2019 at 11:34 am

    LOL Adam Silver and the league help the Sixers? No fuckin’ way

  • comment awaiting approval February 11, 2019 at 11:58 am

    I think it’s pretty obvious that Ben wants to be in LA. I think Sixer fans are pretty hesitant to embrace him because in the back of their head they can tell he doesn’t want to be here. I think they should re-sign for sure since they own his rights, but there is a chance he begins to complain and that type of situation can get ugly. To be honest i wouldn’t be totally against signing him and then trading him elsewhere.

    I know other fans roll their eyes at this, but i really can’t stand the guy. He constantly yells and complains at other teammates after HE makes a mistake, his jumpshot is complete shit, he’s a complete bitch trying to finish at the rim and shies away from contact. and how many times is this dude going to be blocked by the rim attempting an uncontested dunk. He really is going to be Lebron 2.0 only LEbron at least plays with a set of balls and Simmons plays scared.

    • LL, Ruler of Australia February 11, 2019 at 12:11 pm

      I don’t disagree with the first paragraph, but the second one is way too far. He is 22, and sat out his entire 1st year. He has barely played 150 total games. Lebron was still wilting and disappearing against Dallas in the finals after 7 years in the league. He will figure it out on offense.
      If Brand keeps this team together, there are so many weapons that he shouldn’t shoot anyway. And no one can argue that he isn’t tough as hell on the other end of the floor.

    • Google Me! February 11, 2019 at 12:41 pm

      He pulled up and took a very normal (dare I say, decent?) looking 3 pointer yesterday. His shot is clearly going to improve and will be falling regularly before much longer. I’ll never understand fans who want to trade him. Trade him for what? What are you getting in return that makes up for losing a generational talent on both ends of the court?

  • magic has the HI Five Disease... February 11, 2019 at 12:12 pm

    he should die soon

  • This is so childish, gambino February 11, 2019 at 1:41 pm

    What’s to stop Ben from going to Magic’s estate and working out in his private gym. Is there a tail on Ben 24/7. Magic, Lebron and Ben could travel to an island and meet up and work out at some school gym.

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