MERALCO needed clearance from NLEX before it could tap the services of KJ McDaniels for the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
The Road Warriors own the rights to the 29-year-old former NBA player after playing for the franchise in the last Governors Cup.
But NLEX eventually released McDaniels as Meralco has an urgent need for a new import heading to its Friday game against league leader Bay Are Dragons at the Smarta Araneta Coliseum.
“We gave the release papers of KJ last week,” said an NLEX insider.
See: Meralco bringing in former NLEX import KJ McDaniels as O'Bryant replacement
Under league rules, teams own the rights on their imports for at least a one-year grace period until such time they didn’t sign the player for another tour of duty on the same conference they last played for.
A second-round pick by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2014 draft, McDaniels averaged 30.8 points, 11.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.5 steals, and a league-leading 2.8 blocks in his stint with the Road Warriors.
McDaniels led NLEX to the No. 2 see heading to the playoffs, but had to leave the team in a hurry after the eliminations as his partner was about to give birth to their first child.
Cameron Clark took over the place of McDaniels and guided the Road Warriors to the semifinals where they lost to eventual champion Barangay Ginebra.
His coming stint with Meralco will complete McDaniels’ stint with all three teams under the MVP group of companies. The import previously played for TNT during the 2019 Governors Cup.
The Bolts, who are currently on a three-game slide for a 1-5 record, are taking a gamble on McDaniels as the import is giving up at least five inches in height disadvantage as the mid-season conference has a height limit of 6-foot-10.
McDaniels came into the picture after replacement import Jessie Govan was measured by the Bolts to be over the height limit, prompting the team to cancel the official measurement scheduled at the PBA office.
Govan was supposed to take the place of former NBA player Johnny O’ Bryant.