The Golden State Warriors have been hit with one of the more unusual anti-tampering fines that the NBA has ever handed down — a penalty for actively trying not to recruit a player.
The league this week announced that Warriors owner Joe Lacob was fined $50,000 for comments he made regarding star Ben Simmons, who is currently estranged from the Philadelphia 76ers. While most fines involve teams improperly making overtures to recruit impending free agents or available players, Lacob was actually speaking up to dispel rumors that his team was pursuing the two-time All-Star.
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Warriors Not Pursuing Simmons
Speaking to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Rusty Simmons, Lacob put to rest the lingering rumors that the Warriors were looking to make a trade for Ben Simmons. The Warriors owner explained that the Sixers point-forward is very similar to a player already on Golden State’s roster, making him both redundant and expensive.
“In some ways, it doesn’t really fit what we’re doing,” Lacob said. “He makes a lot of money. And, can he finish games? I don’t know. He’s very talented. The problem is: We have Draymond. Draymond and him are very similar in the sense that neither one really shoots and they do a lot of the playmaking. That’s one issue. The salary structure is another.”
The Warriors emerged as a rumored destination for Simmons after reports last month that he was looking to leave Philadelphia and intrigued with the idea of playing for a team in California. But the Warriors reportedly rebuffed the Sixers in the past with regard to Simmons. Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the Sixers proposed a trade that would send Simmons to Golden State in exchange for Andrew Wiggins, James Wiseman, and four first-round picks, including the two lottery picks the Warriors held this year. Golden State turned down the offer and used the picks to take Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody.
Simmons Leaving Philly
While it appears that Golden State is crossed off his list, Simmons is reportedly determined to leave the Sixers. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Simmons told the team he would not be coming to the opening of training camp next week and will not play for the team again.
Wojnarowski noted that the Sixers could apply a bit of pressure, handing down fines that would eat into the $147 million that Simmons has left on his contract, but head coach Doc Rivers has tried a softer approach. Rivers said he hopes to convince Simmons to stay, noting that it’s not uncommon for a player to grow unhappy with a team after a rough ending to a season.
Simmons faced some sharp criticism for his performance in a conference semifinals loss, where he averaged just 9.9 points per game and made just 33 percent of his free throws. Simmons performed better during the regular season, averaging 14.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 6.9 assists for the season season.
“The greatest thing in sports is, you know it’s fair, you fail at times and then you get back on the horse and try,” Rivers said, via ESPN. “You would be amazed if I told you how many times through a summer when you don’t win, which is 29 teams, how often you have to go through something similar to this. Because losing’s hard. People internalize it, and you have to deal with it. So we’re going to deal with this.”