TWO PBA stars now in the twilight of their careers but teeming with championship experience have been relegated to the free agent list three weeks into the planned bubble restart of the season.
Peter June Simon and Sonny Thoss were among the prominent names now in the free agent market, which meant their respective teams opted not to extend their contracts, at least until the end of the year.
A check with the league did bear the names of both Simon and Thoss in the list that also included Sol Mercado, Jerramy King, Chris Exciminiano, RR Garcia, Ronald Tubid, Yousef Taha, Davon Potts, Rabeh Al-Hussaini, Jhaymo Eguilos, among others.
Messages left by SPIN.ph to Magnolia have yet to get a response at posting time.
Thoss meanwhile, did not renew his contract with Alaska after his previous deal expired last August.
Teams now have until Sept. 23 to sign any of the free agents in time for the submission deadline of the 15-man lineup and optional reserve that will make up each ballclub heading into the bubble season.
Incidentally, both Magnolia and Alaska planned jersey retirements for Simon and Thoss, respectively, during the Philippine Cup before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the league to shut down the season.
The Aces had asked Thoss to defer his retirement and play one more conference, during which his jersey No. 7 was to be honored by the Alaska franchise after being part of the team’s three championships in the past.
The Hotshots, on the other hand, initially planned a jersey (No.8) retirement ceremony in Simon’s honor last May 10 during the first season encounter between Magnolia and Barangay Ginebra.
Simon won eight championships with the Purefoods franchise and was a vital cog in the team that clinched the grand slam in 2014.
Individually, the two players are decorated as well.
Simon, 40, is an eight-time All Star, a former All-Star MVP, a one-time Mythical Second Team member, a two-time Mr. Quality Minutes awardee of the PBA Press Corps., and the reigning Three-Point Shootout champion of the All-Stars.
Thoss, 38, was a two-time Mythical First Team member, a four-time Mythical Second team, was the 2013 Finals MVP, and a 12-time All-Star. He also suited up for Gilas Pilipinas in the 2012 and 2015 Jones Cup, and a member of the national squad that bagged the silver in the FIBA Asia Men’s Championship in Changsha, China in 2015.
The two players are also among the few to have played their entire career with just a single franchise.
Thoss was selected by the Aces in the first round (No. 5) of the 2004 draft, while Simon was picked from the free agent list by Purefoods in 2004 after failing to sign up with Sta. Lucia, which got him in the fifth round (43rd overall) of the 2001 draft.
TnT Katropa is the first team to benefit from the free agent list after getting big man Chris Javier, who was relegated by Blackwater.