Players to become free agents under new PBA rules
HONG KONG—Gone are the days when teams in the professional Philippine Basketball Association league owned right-of-first-refusal over their players, virtually making them career-long commodities with practically no right to negotiate with other squads interested in their services.
Starting this season, the Philippine Basketball Association will be “player-friendly.”
In a landmark decision reached here on Monday by the league’s board of governors, the PBA will now allow players, after six years in the league regardless of what team, to chart their future.
This new rule will apply to the players who will start their PBA careers this year, such as JVee Casio and Paul Lee, who went 1-2 in the Draft last Sunday.
At the same time, the league also approved an increase in the minimum pay of players to P50,000 a month, a P20,000 jump from the previous mark.
The team salary cap stays at P36 million a year, with a decision on the proposal to make it P42 million deferred as the members of the board saw no need for it at the moment.
There have been a number of cases in the past— the Benjie Paras issue being one of the biggest—when players failed to get out of their ballclubs even after expressing their desire to leave.
Paras, who in 1989 became the league’s only rookie to be named MVP before making it as one of the league’s 25 greatest players, started and ended his career with Shell although at one point in the 1990s he wanted to leave the squad to play under Robert Jaworski for Ginebra San Miguel.
The right-of-first refusal rule allowed teams to match offers coming from other ballclubs and keep their stars automatically.
In order to keep the balance of power, the individual salary cap of P350,000 a month has been kept in place, and rookies can earn a maximum of P150,000 a month in their first year with a maximum of 50 percent increase in the second.
Rookies this year can earn the maximum on their third season and so on.
Meanwhile, the format for the 37th Season opening October 2 with the Philippine Cup will have imports of unlimited height playing in the Commissioner’s Cup (second conference) and a 6-foot-5 ceiling for the Governors’ Cup.
Also during the same meeting, the board approved commissioner Chito Salud’s plans and programs aimed at putting the league in the consciousness of a younger fan base.
“We will target the 12-35 bracket,” Salud said over breakfast Tuesday at the Holiday Inn Golden Mile hotel here. “We will campaign on-line and make our presence there because that is where these kids are these days.”
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