Johnson, a former NBA player, is available since he is not committed to any US-based team or abroad, but TNT management has yet to finalize the import that will reinforce the team.
“Ivan is in the mix, we’ll decide next week,” said Uichico in a text message yesterday, adding that Talk ’N Text will resume its practice session on Jan. 11 at the Moro Lorenzo Gym inside Ateneo campus.
Uichico did not reveal the other players on their short list, but he mentioned they are playing in the NBA D-League and not in other pro leagues like in Europe or in Latin America.
In last season’s Commissioner’s Cup, Talk ’N Text started the conference with onetime Best Import winner Richard Howell, but despite a 4-1 start, Uichico and management opted to replace him with Johnson.
A highly physical and emotional player, Johnson helped TNT make the Finals opposite Rain or Shine.
In a grueling title series, Johnson was fined P150,000 for intentionally bumping Elasto Painters mentor Yeng Guiao in Game 1 of the Finals, and then leaving RoS guard Paul Lee bloodied and toothless with an elbow in Game 3.
Despite all his on-court antics and ‘Bad Boy’ image that left opponents furious, Johnson powered the Texters to the title with a double-overtime victory in Game 7, 121-119. (Waylon P. Galvez)