PBA unrestricted free agency also a ‘gamble’ for players, says commissioner
MANILA, Philippines—The PBA’s first step into unrestricted free agency certainly had its hiccups, and league Commissioner Willie Marcial knows that.
Marcial said that unrestricted free agents may have the absolute freedom to choose which team they want to play for, but there’s also a little bit of a gamble for those who want to dive into the talent pool.
“Of course the advantage will always be with the players, that’s why we implemented unrestricted free agency so that players can choose the teams they want to play for,” said Marcial in Filipino. “That thing is though, it’s also a gamble for them.”
Marcial added that unrestricted free agents may choose to leave their former clubs to get better contracts with other teams but that isn’t always a guarantee.
A player may not get the contract he wants from another team and trying to go back to his former club could net him a worse deal.
The PBA instituted unrestricted free agency in 2021 with the players from the 2014 Draft class being the first talents to get into the pool and a couple from that batch—Rodney Brondial and John Pinto—already took advantage of the new landscape.
Brondial left Alaska to sign with San Miguel while Pinto jumped ship to Barangay Ginebra from Meralco.
Prior to 2021, teams had the right of refusal wherein they could match any offer sheet that other clubs give to their players with expiring contracts.
This time, however, once a player’s contract gets past its eligible date then teams can go into a bidding war for his signature.
Marcial added they could still revisit the policies regarding unrestricted free agents next season and fix any disadvantages the league deem fit.
“This is the good thing about free agency because a player isn’t forever tied to a team, now they can freely choose which team they want to play for,” said Marcial. “As for now, we don’t see any disadvantages.”
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