June 13, 2024

NLEX left import-less after deal with NBA vet Jonathon Simmons fizzles out

NLEX left import-less after deal with NBA vet Jonathon Simmons fizzles out
NLEX Road Warriors website

Tomorrow’s NLEX-Blackwater opener took an interesting turn as NLEX is likely to play without an import.

After previously announcing NBA veteran Jonathon Simmons as their reinforcement for the Governors’ Cup, the Road Warriors are now scrambling to find a replacement import — supposedly due to Simmons failing to secure his release from the Shanxi Loongs of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA).

New NLEX head coach Frankie Lim, however, bared a different reason for Simmons’s apparent change of heart. According to the comebacking tactician, the highly touted high-flyer is staying put in China because he has an outstanding offer to return — one that is likely more lucrative if true.   

“Meron siyang offer sa China, so ang sabi ko, 'Sige lumarga ka, hanap na lang kami ng iba,’” Lim said via the official PBA website. “Baka hindi na lumaro sa Wednesday. Basta we'll just try and gawan ng paraan."

The 33-year-old Simmons was supposed to headline the new imports for this Governors’ Cup with his NBA pedigree, having played most memorably for the San Antonio Spurs. He also played for the Orlando Magic and Philadelphia 76ers, before taking his act to the CBA in 2021. Simmons played four seasons in the NBA, posting career averages of 8.3 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 1.9 assists. He also played a key role in the Spurs’ 2017 postseason run, where he averaged 10.5 points in 20 minutes of action.  

Simmons would have been the second NLEX import with NBA pedigree this season alone, after Earl Clark reinforced the Road Warriors in the recently concluded Commissioner’s Cup. Even with Clark onboard, though, NLEX still failed to make the playoffs, losing a win-or-go-home play-in against Rain or Shine for the eighth seed.  

Now, it appears the Road Warriors’ Governors’ Cup campaign will be off to a rocky start.