The Los Angeles Lakers are trying to tell their side of the story in the ongoing disagreement over Ben Simmons.
The Lakers said in a statement Monday that it was the Philadelphia 76ers who first reached out to the Lakers asking if it would be possible for Simmons to talk with Magic Johnson. The Lakers said they contacted the Sixers and informed them that their approval would be required, and “that was the end of the matter.”
Statement from the Lakers on the Magic Johnson/Ben Simmons intrigue: pic.twitter.com/pSiEQ0u6hD
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) February 11, 2019
The story continues to evolve depending on who’s telling it. 76ers general manager Elton Brand said earlier Monday that the Lakers had originally reached out to the 76ers to approve such a meeting, and Brand had refused to authorize it. That’s pretty much the total opposite of what the Lakers are now saying.
The NBA has begun investigating this entire situation, and will be looking to settle this as quickly as possible before the rumor mill gets out of control.
The Philadelphia 76ers made a big move before the trade deadline to acquire Tobias Harris from the Los Angeles Clippers, but it puts the team in the position of having to try to find ways to reetain both him and Jimmy Butler this offseason.
According to general manager Elton Brand, Philadelphia’s ownership has given assurances that the team will be able to re-sign both players when they hit free agency, despite the fact that it’s bound to be an expensive proposition.
Elton Brand on whether it's possible to bring back both Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris this summer: "Absolutely. I've gotten all assurances from the managing partners that we can bring them back and sign them." #sixers
— Derek Bodner (@DerekBodnerNBA) February 8, 2019
In other words, the 76ers are setting in for the long haul and trying to build a core around a big four of Harris, Butler, Ben Simmons, and Joel Embiid. The Harris deal was one of the biggest of the deadline and a clear statement of intent, indicating that Philadelphia has moved completely into full-on contender status and aims to remain there for years to come.
The 2019 NBA trade deadline was an exceptionally active one with multiple big names changing teams, even if the biggest name on the market ended up staying put. That doesn’t change the fact that the action, especially in the Eastern Conference, was fast and furious, and that isn’t even factoring in the Kristaps Porzingis deal.
Here are ten big takeaways from all the moves that took place prior to Thursday’s deadline.
1. The Anthony Davis saga will drag on into the summer, and the Lakers look worse for it
It didn’t seem like the New Orleans Pelicans ever had any real intention of negotiating with the Los Angeles Lakers in good faith on an Anthony Davis trade. The Pelicans have every incentive to wait until summer to deal Davis, when they should have a wider range of interested teams. The Lakers will be disappointed, as they don’t look great publicly, seem to have muddled the minds of their young players, and may now find themselves in a situation where they can be outbid. LeBron James probably won’t be happy, either.
The Philadelphia 76ers have acquired forward James Ennis from the Houston Rockets in exchange for draft considerations, reports ESPN and other media outlets.
For the 28-year-old Ennis, Philadelphia will represent the sixth team he’s suited up since breaking into the NBA as a second-round pick in 2014. He has previously played for the Miami Heat, New Orleans Pelicans, Memphis Grizzlies, Detroit Pistons and, obviously, the Rockets.
Ennis is a career 36.1 percent three-point shooter and will likely settle into the role of sixth-man in Philadelphia.
Meanwhile, by dealing Ennis, the Rockets will create a $1.6 million trade exception and save $2.4 million, which puts them within striking distance of getting under the NBA’s luxury tax. They are now just $2.4 million over that threshold.
As the NBA trade deadline approaches, nearly every player in the league could, potentially, be on the block. However, among those that are the least likely to be traded, Philadelphia 76ers power forward Joel Embiid is near the very top.
Still, that didn’t stop Embiid from making a tongue-in-cheek comment when asked his thoughts on the looming deadline.
“Hopefully I don’t get traded. You never know,” Embiid said as reporters laughed at the notion. “Nobody’s untouchable in this league, so hopefully I’m here for a long time or the rest of my career.”
Embiid never even cracked a smile as he answered the question even though he knows full well he won’t be on the move come Thursday.
But the joke, as it were, was more of a deflection. Embiid had previously been asked if he has met with 76ers management to offer input on who they should trade away or who they should attempt to bring in. He twice said it was none of his business as reporters continued to pile, ultimately reverting to the laughable notion that he, too, could be on the block.
Embiid, of course, isn’t going anywhere in 2019 or for the foreseeable future. He’s the face of their franchise and among the best all-around talents in the league.
Reports of tension between Philadelphia 76ers guard Jimmy Butler and coach Brett Brown were apparently taken seriously enough that a few teams decided to try to see if the star player was available via trade.
According to Yaron Weitzman of Bleacher Report, some opposing general managers called the 76ers to ask if Butler might be available via trade. They were turned aside, and a Sixers source said that dealing Butler hasn’t even been considered by the front office.
The speculation comes after it was reported that Butler and Brown have clashed over the team’s offensive direction. Brown has downplayed whatever happened, and the Sixers don’t seem particularly worried about it either.
Essentially, it looks like a few teams read the reporting and did their due diligence. They have been turned back, and that looks unlikely to change anytime soon.
With the NBA trade deadline a little over a month away, the Philadelphia 76ers are taking all the necessary precautions.
Speaking with The Athletic’s Jackson Frank this week, Sixers guard JJ Redick revealed a funny superstition that the team has. Redick said that the last four players to sit next to guard TJ McConnell on the team flights all got traded, so he now sits next to McConnell on flights since he has veto power over trades.
Last night, JJ Redick told me he started sitting next to TJ McConnell on flights after the Jimmy Butler trade because the last 4 guys to do so got traded and he can veto any trade.
— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) January 3, 2019
While Redick did not specify which players were victimized by the seat next to McConnell, Philly’s trade for Jimmy Butler in November sent Dario Saric, Robert Covington, and Jerryd Bayless packing. Justin Anderson and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot were also dealt in a trade for Mike Muscala this summer.
We have seen some other funny superstitions in the NBA over the years, but The Curse of TJ McConnell’s Seatmate has to be among the most unexpected.