Tensions were high in a pair of NBA front offices Monday over a phone call.
The Los Angeles Lakers called the Philadelphia 76ers to ask permission for president of basketball operations Magic Johnson to speak with Ben Simmons.
The 76ers had no interest in the Lakers having contact with their young All-Star point guard and declined.
Brand shut down Simmons-Magic talk
It wasn’t the call so much that ruffled the Lakers’ feathers, though. It was how they were portrayed. And now it’s prompted 76ers general manager Elton Brand to reportedly call Johnson to apologize.
Brand went on Philadelphia’s 97.5 The Fanatic on Monday and explained that he shut down the meeting.
“(Lakers general manager) Rob Pelinka called me and said that Ben wanted to talk to Hall of Famers after the season,” Brand said. “Magic was on the list. He asked for authorization. … I said no. This was over a month ago.”
Ummm … Ben reached out first
What Brand didn’t mention on the radio was that Simmons had actually reached out to the Lakers in the first place to discuss a potential meeting with Johnson. A big guard, Simmons wanted to talk to the greatest big guard of all time about basketball.
“He reached out to me, not to me directly, to the Lakers to find out if we could get together this summer,” Johnson told reporters Sunday. “I said, ‘Hey you have to clear it with the league.’ Everybody, the Sixers sign off, we sign off, the league sign off that there’s not nothing going on, but he wants to know how to play the position as a big guard. That’s fine, I will do that. But if everybody doesn’t sign off, then we can’t get together.”
Brand reportedly apologized to Magic
That Brand neglected to mention that Simmons initiated the contact led to the Lakers clarifying that fact in a statement of their own. It also led to an apologetic call to Johnson later Monday, ESPN reports.
“I have a great relationship with Ben and [his agent] Rich [Paul] and we expect him to be a Sixer for a long time,” Brand told ESPN. “He has taken interest in chatting with some of the game’s all-time greats and we’re supportive.
“I had brief dialogue with Rob Pelinka, who I’ve known for a long time, but nothing is planned. Our collective focus is on making a postseason push. Again, we’re not sweating this — end of story.”
This story became bigger than it needed to be thanks to the aftermath of the Anthony Davis saga that saw the Lakers coveting the New Orleans Pelicans star center in reported trade talks.
Jokes of Lakers tampering have run rampant in NBA circles, and Johnson can probably do without tampering buzz involving another team.
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