PBA free agency a gamble

Joaquin Henson - The Philippine Star
PBA free agency a gamble
Willie Marcial
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — PBA commissioner Willie Marcial said yesterday the recent implementation of the unrestricted free agency rule covering players with expired contracts seven years after their draft in 2014 is under study and even as only two were involved so far in switching teams, it will be revisited if there is room for improvement.

The rule traces its roots to the term of former commissioner Chito Salud and provides an opportunity for veterans to choose their teams provided their contracts are expired seven years from drafting. It was agreed that the starting cut-off would be 2014. Next year, the cut-off will advance to 2015. The rule is meant to benefit veterans who gain the chance to pick their teams after seven years of restricted status.

But Marcial said choosing unrestricted free agency is a gamble. “Paano kung walang kumuha sa ‘yo at pinili mo maging unrestricted free agent na may offer naman sa existing team?” he said. “Baka sa huli, wala siyang mapuntahan. Sa mga teams naman, kung alam nila malapit na mag-expire ang contract after serving seven years at balak nilang i-retain, dapat pirmahan na nila sa madaling panahon.” It’s a balancing act but ultimately, the player decides whether or not to take the risk of unrestricted free agency.

Marcial said the issue of players moving from one sister team to another was discussed in the implementation. For the meantime, it was agreed that unrestricted free agents could transfer only to non-affiliated teams. The two examples were Nards Pinto from Meralco to Ginebra and Rodney Brondial from Alaska to San Miguel Beer.

Marcial said “Kung makakabuti sa liga,” then the rule will stay. But if it proves to be dysfunctional, the rule will be revisited. Marcial also said that under normal conditions, players on 3x3 rosters may be elevated to 5x5 only if their contracts are expired at the end of each 3x3 conference coinciding with the conclusion of each 5x5 conference.  But since the first 3x3 conference has ended and the Governors’ Cup is on hold, Marcial said an exception will be made to allow 3x3 players with expired contracts to be elevated to 5x5 even if the 5x5 tournament is in progress. Marcial clarified it isn’t a precedent and is an exception only because of the delay in resuming the Governors’ Cup games under Alert Level 3 in NCR Plus.



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