In a statement obtained by ESPN's Dave McMenamin on Monday, the club insists the 76ers initiated the contact in November to see if their superstar point guard could meet with Lakers president Magic Johnson to discuss the ins and outs of being a "big guard" in the NBA.
"To clarify, last November the 76ers sent an email to the Lakers asking if Ben Simmons would be able to speak with Magic Johnson about his Hall of Fame playing career," the statement reads. "After receiving the email request from the 76ers, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka contacted 76ers general manager Elton Brand and informed him that Magic could only do so if the 76ers gave written pre-approval. That was the end of the matter."
Brand says he shot down Pelinka's inquiry into a possible meeting between Johnson and Simmons.
"Rob Pelinka called me and said that Ben wanted to talk to Hall of Famers after the season, Magic was on the list," Brand said Monday. "He asked for authorization ... I said no. This was over a month ago."
The Lakers are looking to avoid a third tampering fine since 2017. They were forced to pay $500,000 after Pelinka spoke to Paul George's agent about their interest before the All-Star forward hit free agency.
They were issued a $50,000 fine months later for Johnson's comments about Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo.