Jonathon Simmons is going to stay with NLEX – at least until 6 February.
Multiple sources told Daily Tribune that Simmons will be playing for the Road Warriors in the Governors’ Cup of the Philippine Basketball Association until 6 February before formally rejoining his team in the Chinese Basketball Association.
With that, the former National Basketball Association campaigner will still be able to play three more games against NorthPort on Saturday, TNT Tropang Giga on 1 February and Phoenix Super LPG on 4 February before flying to China to see action for the Shanxi Loongs.
“Simmons situation is already fixed and his contract with NLEX will be until 6 February,” said a source, speaking on condition of anonymity for lack of clearance from top NLEX management.
Simmons was caught in a tricky situation after the Loongs refused to issue his clearance a day before he plays his first PBA game.
An NLEX insider said the Loongs dangled “NBA amount” of money and wanted Simmons to take the next available flight to China.
But the Road Warriors, led by newly-appointed team manager Larry Fonacier, burned the phone lines just to secure a Letter of Clearance from the International Basketball Federation.
In the end, Simmons was able to play, leading the Road Warriors with 32 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and two steals in a masterful 124-102 win over Blackwater on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Still, the Road Warriors are now preparing for life without Simmons.
In fact, they are seriously eyeing another former NBA veteran in Wayne Selden Jr. while their former import Manny Harris is also being considered.
Selden, a 6-foot-4 slasher who saw action for the New Orleans Pelicans, Memphis Grizzlies, Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks, already expressed his availability, but the Road Warriors can still opt for an old hand in Harris, who led them to a twice-to-beat edge in the quarterfinals of the 2019 Governors’ Cup.
“That’s how this new group works. With so many uncertainties that could happen, they always come up with backup plans,” the source said.
“In fact, there were even reports that NLEX will play all-Filipino in its first game. Probably, they did that to confuse Blackwater.”
“When it comes to imports, you’ll never know.”