Ben Simmons ‘can’t recover from this’ with 76ers: Magic Johnson

Magic Johnson believes Ben Simmons should exit Philadelphia.

“I think it’s time for [Simmons’ agent] Rich Paul to get him out of Philly. I think it’ll be good for both parties,” the Lakers legend said on ESPN’s “Get Up” on Monday, after Simmons recorded five points in the Sixers’ Game 7 elimination loss to the Hawks on Sunday.

Johnson echoed the criticism around Simmons’ lack of shooting, and offered advice about what the 24-year-old point guard could do this offseason to improve his game.

“He needs to get with a veteran to bring that confidence back… then work on your shot,” the five-time NBA champion said.

Simmons didn’t attempt a shot in the fourth quarter in five of the seven games in the second-round series against the Hawks.

The point guard also shot just 15-for-45 (33%) on foul shots against Atlanta and 34.2% from the line during the 2021 playoffs overall, according to ESPN. It added up to the worst free throw percentage in NBA playoff history for a player with at least 70 attempts.

“He’s not aggressive on the offensive end,” Johnson said. “Game 5 was when [the Sixers] lost this series. [Simmons’] poor free-throw shooting carried over into Game 6 and 7.”

Magic Johnson had harsh words for Ben Simmons.
Magic Johnson had harsh words for Ben Simmons.
Getty Images

Johnson also raised eyebrows when he said the 76ers “messed up” by not acquiring James Harden from Houston. Before Harden joined the Nets in January, the Rockets reportedly wanted to trade him to the Sixers for Simmons in late 2020.

GM Daryl Morey and the Sixers never went through with the move, and weren’t willing to give up Simmons. Many thought the trade would happen since Morey, former GM of the Rockets, was responsible for bringing Harden to Houston.

Further discussing Simmons’ lack of confidence on Monday’s “Keyshawn, JWill and Zubin” show, Johnson had a bleak outlook on the situation.

“Ben, it’s time for a change because he can’t recover from this. The locker room won’t recover from it,” Johnson said.

He noted that if the Sixers won Game 5, “we wouldn’t be talking about Ben Simmons.” Atlanta took that game in Philadelphia after the Sixers blew a 26-point second half lead.

“He needs to be somewhere else… it’s over,” Johnson declared.

“He’s a soft leader in terms of soft spoken and if you don’t deliver during crunch time, the finger’s going to get pointed … at Ben Simmons.”

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft just finished the first year of his five-year $177 million contract with the Sixers. Whether or not he will finish out that contract in Philadelphia appears more of a question than ever.

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