Today is a day that will live in infamy for Spurs fans, because today is the day we lost The Juice, Jonathon Simmons. In a heartbreaking turn of events Simmons has signed a three-year deal with the Orlando Magic, just one day after the Spurs had renounced their rights to the rising swingman.
I knew the cap space situation was tight but I thought Pop and R.C. Buford would’ve come up with some creatively genius move to make everything work perfectly like they always do. This offseason seems to be different from others, where the Spurs aren’t making big splashes and retaining their key role players. Besides the signing of Rudy Gay, the Spurs have seemingly been sitting on the fence throughout this entire free agency period. Where there were once rumors of the Spurs getting Paul George or Chris Paul, they have ended up with an aging formerly great small forward in Gay, and have lost a defensive asset in Dewayne Dedmon and an electrifying shooting guard in Jonathon Simmons.
Simmons literally had to pay $50 to even get a D-League tryout. He wasn’t a highly touted prospect, he wasn’t a top pick, and he wasn’t expected to be anything in this league, yet here he is, a key contributor for the Spurs and a participant in the Rising Stars Challenge, as one of the best young talents in the NBA. By looking at the stats, people wouldn’t assume that the loss of Simmons would be detrimental to the Spurs future success, but what people don’t see in the stats is the presence Simmons had on the court. When Simmons stepped onto the hardwood the city of San Antonio sat up on the edge of their seats because they knew something special was bound to happen while he was out there. The man started out the season in Golden State, playing the presumably best team of all time, and balled out, dropping 20 points, and had one of the most iconic chase down blocks of the entire season. Simmons seemed to always rise to the moment by playing his best basketball in the biggest games. When Kawhi Leonard went down in the playoffs, Simmons was the next man in line to step up, averaging 20 min/game and 10.5 PPG while shooting 46% from the field.
Whenever I watch Simmons play, I’m reminded of Manu Ginobili, a swingman with endless amounts of energy, passion, and athleticism. Every time they step onto the court the level of intensity amplifies. From the legendary blocks to the ridiculous dunks, I saw Simmons as the successor to Manu in San Antonio. A player for Spurs fans to rally around and love for years to come, but sadly that dream will never become a reality as Simmons has left one of the most legendary sports franchises in history to join a continuously sinking basketball team in the Orlando Magic. I love what The Juice brought to San Antonio and the time he had there will forever be a legendary starting point for his career. Jonathon Simmons will not be easily replaced, but I wish him nothing but the best throughout the rest of his years in the NBA.