Sim­mons will wel­come some Magic ad­vice

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Jack McCaf­fery jm­c­caf­[email protected]­tu­ry­ @Jack­McCaf­fery on Twit­ter

PHILADEL­PHIA >> Whether ru­mor or fact, leg­end or lie, there has been one per­sis­tent whis­per since Ben Sim­mons joined the NBA: Ul­ti­mately, he would play for the Los An­ge­les Lak­ers.

And while noth­ing Sim­mons has said or done has sug­gested any­thing but loy­alty to the 76ers, there was Magic John­son Sun­day quick to vol­un­teer in­for­ma­tion about a cu­ri­ous sit­u­a­tion.

Asked if, as a 6-foot-10 point guard of some achieve­ment, he en­joys watch­ing Sim­mons project some of the same skills, John­son pushed the dis­cus­sion to an­other level.

“Oh, for sure,” the Lak­ers’ pres­i­dent of bas­ket­ball op­er­a­tions said, be­fore the Six­ers’ 143-120 vic­tory over the Lak­ers. “For sure. 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’d have to clear it with the league. Every­body. The Six­ers sign off. We sign off. The league signs off that noth­ing is go­ing on.’”

So Sim­mons, who will be a re­stricted free agent at the end of the 2020-2021 sea­son, wants to meet with the Lak­ers’ prin­ci­pal bas­ket­ball front-of­fice force. Could mean some­thing. Could mean he just wants to be­come a bet­ter bas­ket­ball player.

“He wants to know how to play the po­si­tion as a big guard, da, da, da, da, da da,” John­son said. “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 also that he has a very high bas­ket­ball IQ. And look at him: The league bet­ter watch out. That is a stacked team.”

Sim­mons barely was guarded by Le­Bron James early Sun­day, the Lak­ers hint­ing at what the Six­ers can ex­pect from other teams in the play­offs. He set­tled for eight points, missed a three­p­oint shot, and had seven as­sists. Af­ter­ward, he did ac­knowl­edge his in­ter­est in any pos­si­ble tu­to­rial from John­son.

“To learn from some­body like that would be huge,” he said. “He was in sit­u­a­tions where he had to play the ‘five’ and won a cham­pi­onship. And he is in the Hall of Fame. And he is one of those guys, in the po­si­tion I am in, as a 6-10 point guard, I think he can help.”

Sim­mons said he did not plan to im­me­di­ately re­quest per­mis­sion from the Six­ers.

“I am not fo­cus­ing on that right now,” he said. “I am fo­cus­ing on my team here and what is go­ing on.”

••• The Six­ers traded Mike Mus­cala last week. He missed ex­actly one Wells Fargo Cen­ter game be­fore re­turn­ing Sun­day with the Lak­ers.

“It’s pretty crazy,” Mus­cala said. “But it’s a busi­ness. I’m keep­ing stuff here in Philly in my apart­ment. I couldn’t get out of the lease yet. So I might try to work out some­thing with one of the guys who got traded here.”

The Six­ers sent Mus­cala to the Clip­pers with Wil­son Chan­dler and Landry Shamet in a com­pli­cated deal. But the Clip­pers flipped him to the Lak­ers the next day for Ivica Zubac and the right to waive Michael Beasley.

The Six­ers had ex­pected Mus­cala to be a clean re­place­ment for Er­san Ilyasova, but he had some nag­ging in­juries and was only a 34.2-per­cent three-point shooter.

Why didn’t it work out for the Buck­nell prod­uct in Philadel­phia?

“I don’t know if that’s true,” Brett Brown said. “I think he achieved what we had hoped he was go­ing to achieve. We all wished peo­ple made more shots. But in gen­eral, he was good peo­ple. There was a tough­ness about him. He could run a lane. He was a fan­tas­tic team­mate. And when you look in the rear-view mir­ror at Mike, I think he achieved what we had hoped.”

Mus­cala played 13:09 Sun­day, pro­vid­ing eight points, in­clud­ing two three-point­ers.

“Mike was re­ally last-se­cond,” John­son said. “We didn’t know Philly was go­ing to make that move. When they made that move, we looked up and said, ‘Man, a stretch-four-five could re­ally help us out.’ And we feel good about the trade.”

••• Among the high­lights Sun­day was Sim­mons at­tempt­ing an inthe-flow three-point jump shot early in the third quar­ter. He had taken only 13 three-point­ers in his ca­reer, al­most ex­clu­sively in endof-quar­ter or end-of-shot-clock heaves. He has yet to make one.

The shot failed … but at least it was a shot.

“I wasn’t shocked by it,” JJ Redick said. “I wasn’t shocked by it.”

Seated nearby, Em­biid quipped: “You sure?” Ei­ther way, it was … a mo­ment. “I will start pulling up, but that’s not one of those things that I’m look­ing at, it’s not ev­ery­thing,” Sim­mons said. “I’m not fo­cused on just do­ing that, I’m go­ing to play my game, play my strengths and con­tinue to try and get that.”

••• Plagued re­cently by stom­ach dis­tress, Em­biid was a game-time de­ci­sion. He would play 32:23.

“I was feel­ing a lit­tle bet­ter to­day,” he said. “I was still un­der the weather. But I wouldn’t miss this op­por­tu­nity to get bet­ter, es­pe­cially with the play­ers we just added. So I felt I had to play this game.”

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