In the history of the PBA, no player has ever won going head-to-head with his mother club.
Ask Benjie Paras.
And Asi Taulava, even.
The two big men also held out in signing extension contracts with their respective mother squads in the past—Paras ended up staying with the squad that drafted him and Taulava winding up in another league.
And an important history lesson would have saved Greg Slaughter a lot of trouble: PBA rules are designed to protect ball clubs in such situations.
The fourth day of the Slaughter saga ended on Wednesday and the big man is nowhere near signing a contract renewal with Barangay Ginebra. The former Ateneo star reportedly learned of a trade that would send him to NorthPort for Christian Standhardinger and opted to take a leave from the PBA, depriving the Gin Kings of its biggest player and trade bait.
Sources have told the Inquirer that the swap was a “done deal” until Slaughter decided to rebuff extension offers from the Gin Kings. Slaughter didn’t sign supposedly because he was asking for a “no trade clause” to be put in the new deal, which Ginebra management nixed.
Even if it relented, Ginebra, it turns out, can’t offer such a clause in the first place, commissioner Willie Marcial said on Wednesday afternoon.
“I’ve been in the PBA long enough to know that such a clause doesn’t exist,” Marcial told the Inquirer. “I haven’t seen a UPC (uniform player’s contract) that included such a clause. Maybe they can do that internally, but the PBA will not honor that because it would be unfair for the other teams.”
Paras’ case shocked the league in the early 1990s when the only man ever to win rookie of the year and MVP at the same time in 1989 suddenly decided to get out of Shell and even joined Ginebra San Miguel in practice, declaring that he wanted to play for Robert Jaworski and effectively ending his relationship with the Turbo Chargers—for a time.
That case dragged on for months, only for Shell to stay firm and keep the rights to the “Tower of Power” until Paras himself relented and returned as the prodigal son who spearheaded the Turbo Chargers to several more titles.
Teams hold rights to players in perpetuity, something that will change for the first time in league history only next year, when the PBA will finally allow true unrestricted free agents. Taulava also experienced the same hurdle as Paras when he refused to sign with Meralco and took his act to the Asean Basketball League to play for San Miguel Beer. He did win an MVP there, before the Bolts traded him later on.
Paras would later be traded to San Miguel for a forgettable swan song, while Taulava is now winding up his career with NLEX as a relief center, having played one of his best seasons outside of the PBA because of his holdout.
Slaughter, whose numbers have dipped consistently in the last four years, could hold out for as long as he wants and Ginebra can still trade its rights to him to whichever team it decides to, spurning his bid to end his career with Ginebra. Slaughter, one of his confidants told the Inquirer on Monday, said “he doesn’t see himself playing for another team.”
Averaging career-lows of 9.6 points—the first time in his career that he failed to average in twin digits—and 22.4 minutes last season, Slaughter has certainly not played according to expectations, with Japeth Aguilar stepping up to play solidly as Ginebra’s prime big man.
As much as he would like to revitalize his career with the only team he has ever suited up for, it is clear Slaughter isn’t in control of that decision. Even when the new rule kicks in next year, it will only cover players drafted 2014 and after.
The 31-year-old Slaughter joined the league in 2013 as the Kings’ top draft pick overall.