The Warriors have been linked to disgruntled Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons for months, and Wednesday, the NBA fined Warriors owner Joe Lacob $50,000 for violating the league’s anti-tampering rule for comments he made a day earlier about an unnamed player who pretty clearly was Simmons.
Simmons has demanded a trade and the forward reportedly said he won’t attend training camp — or ever play another game — with the 76ers, sparking new speculation about where the three-time All-Star might end up. On Tuesday, Lacob was quoted by the San Francisco Chronicle’s Rusty Simmons discussing a “Defensive Player of the Year candidate in Philadelphia” who Lacob said his team does not want to trade for. Ben Simmons was second to the Utah Jazz’s Rudy Gobert in the NBA defensive player of the year voting last season and is considered by many to be the best defensive player in the league.
In announcing the punishment for Lacob, the NBA noted, “The fine is in response to comments by Lacob in a Sept. 21 news article regarding the Philadelphia 76ers’ Ben Simmons.”
Lacob told the Chronicle that, “I think we are always looking at everything to see if we can improve our team. We would always look.” But Lacob also made it more clear who he was talking about when he added, “In some ways, it doesn’t really fit what we’re doing. 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 (Green). 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.”
Simmons, the No. 1 overall pick in 2016, was heavily criticized for his lack of offensive contributions in the 76ers’ Eastern Conference semifinals loss to the Atlanta Hawks last season.
Simmons has four years and $147 million left on his contract — including $33 million for 2021-22. By 2024-25 his salary increases to $40.3 million. The Warriors’ salary for this season is projected at just under $180 million.©#YR@ MediaNews Group, Inc. Visit at mercurynews.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.