Ben Simmons has been hanging out in Los Angeles quite a bit lately — and his familiarity with the Lakers might be a cause for concern back in Philadelphia. Simmons was offered a $170 million max contract from the Sixers, but there is no indication he has signed any deal as the two sides work out the nitty-gritty details.
That’s all well and good. However, Simmons has spent almost the entirety of his offseason in California, where he has been working with trainer Chris Johnson. Again, all well and good. On Thursday, the Sixers guard posted a semi-alarming Instagram picture alongside Lakers stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Red flag? Maybe. Simmons has a long-standing relationship with James as the 22-year-old considers him a mentor. Rumors of the two joining forces on the Lakers have been an ongoing topic of discussion. This latest photo was tagged “Family” and Simmons did nothing to fan the flames that he might join the Lakers.
The appeal of Hollywood is obvious, even without Simmons dating Kendall Jenner any longer. It’s always going to be a thing as long as he and James hang out. Back in May, Heavy.com’s own “Scoop B” Robinson reported on a possible trade scenario between the Sixers and Lakers.
Last year, Simmons met with Lakers then-president Magic Johson in a highly-scrutinized rendezvous. According to reports, Sixers GM Elton Brand was not on board.
Simmons hinted that he may want to stay in Philadelphia during comments in April after Sixers fans booed him after a playoff loss.
“It’s Philly. That’s what’s going to happen. I love it,” Simmons told reporters, via NBC Sports. “That’s how Philly is. If you can’t play here, you can’t. They’re going to give you s—, they talk s—, it is what it is. If you’re not playing well, they’re going to let you know, but I love being here. I love the fans here. I wouldn’t want to be in a place where they didn’t really care or only showed up when times are going well. A few years ago we were winning 10 games.”
Simmons Working Out with New Trainer
Whether he wants to be a Laker or not remains unclear, but Simmons has been putting extra time in the gym with new trainer Chris Johnson. In late June, the All-Star was seen working out in Los Angeles. The assumption is Simmons is working on his improving his jump shot, but Johnson is an expert at helping players cope with the mental part of their games as well. On Thursday, Simmons and his Sixers teammate Tobias Harris appeared together on one of Johnson’s Instagram stories.
What does it all mean? When will the drama end? It could all be smoke and mirrors. The Sixers, with a rebuilt starting five consisting of Simmons, Harris, Al Horford, Joel Embiid and Josh Richardson, should be legitimate contenders in the Eastern Conference. They may even threaten for an NBA championship. Of course, that all depends on Simmons’ willingness to commit to the franchise for the long term.