Magic Johnson is up to mentor Ben Simmons — if the NBA allows it.
The Lakers vice president was in attendance for Los Angeles’ 143-120 blowout loss to the 76ers on Sunday in Philadelphia and said he would be open to sharing “big guard” secrets with the 76ers star.
“He reached out to me, not to me directly, to the Lakers, to find out if we can get together this summer,” Johnson said about Simmons. “I said, ‘Hey, you’d have to clear it with the league. Everybody. The Sixers sign off. We sign off. The league sign off that nothing is going on.’
“But he wants to know how to play the position as a big guard, da, da, da, da, da da. It’s fine. I will do that.”
The 76ers might be right to fell a little unease, given the Lakers’ pursuit of Anthony Davis — a client at Klutch Sports, which is run by LeBron James’ close friend, Rich Paul. Simmons is also with Klutch.
Simmons, who will appear in his first All-Star Game later this month, said the similarities in both his and Johnson’s game would make for an ideal partnership.
“Trying to learn from somebody like that would be huge,” Simmons said. “Getting to speak to him — he’s had to play the 5 and win a championship — and he’s in the Hall of Fame. In terms of what position I’m in, a 6-10 point guard, I think it would help.”
Johnson and Simmons share resemblance in stature and game that makes sense for a potential link-up. Both are considering freak hybrids with flair despite size (Johnson at 6-foot-9, Simmons 6-foot-10) while their athleticism enables each to command the point, as well.
There’s also intrigue in terms of what Johnson can do for Simmons’ jump shot. With Philadelphia stacking more weapons at the deadline, Simmons’ role could change, and he showed a small glimpse on Sunday by attempting a rare 3-pointer in the third quarter, just his third attempt from long range this season.
Johnson’s shot was a liability for most of his career, but toward the end he had become respectable enough that opponents had to at least respect the possibility. In his final three years, Johnson shot over 30 percent from 3 after barely breaking 20 percent his first nine. Simmons is 0-for-14 in his career from 3 after Sunday’s miss.
76ers head coach Brett Brown said it was an important one that could be significant in the larger picture.
“We’ve talked about this a lot, and I thought it looked good,” Brown said, via ESPN. “The shot looked good. The rhythm of it looked good. It was close to going in. He didn’t look uncomfortable shooting it. And he can tell you the story if he chooses, but he and I spoke about this notion for a little bit in the last 24 hours. What’s going to happen in the third third of the regular season? What can we do to prepare you for the playoffs, and what’s coming?
“We all saw to an extreme LeBron not guard him, and we all have memories of the Celtics series, so somewhere in the middle, we have a window of 27 or whatever amount of games left, and I’d like to try some of this stuff in the final games here before the All-Star break and take off with it for the final third. It’s a long explanation to your question, but the underbelly of the reason is significant.”