05 October 2014

Why The Bolts Should Not Resign Danny I

Danny Ildefonso
As the Meralco Bolts try to finalized their roster in time for the Philippine Basketball Association 40th season this coming 19 October, there are some things that made it clear why the team should not bring back former center Danny Ildefonso.

Ildefonso was placed in the expansion draft a couple of months ago and was picked first by new team Blackwater Sports as their lead veteran player. However, after disagreement on how much the 37-year old veteran should receive from the Ever Bilena franchise, Ildefonso was kept in the freezer.

There were some initial hints that the two-time MVP (2000 and 2001) may be headed back to the Bolts if a trade is agreed upon, but the Bolts should consider three things on why they should keep their hands away from the aging slotman: roster composition, cost and timing.

New coach Norman Black has not yet addressed the possibility of Ildefonso joining the team where he used to receive PhP 375,000 per month. Nevertheless, it has become obvious that the team may not need another center who will eat up a large portion of the team coffers only to provide minimal amount of contribution to the overall output.

If we go through the process of negotiation and looking at where the Bolts is in their center position, there are lots of available options right now that they could do at that slot. Taking in Ildefonso will take away more minutes away from the young returnee Rabeh Al-Hussaini and the vastly improving, but undersize, Reynel Hugnatan.

Among Al-Hussaini, Hugnatan and James Sena, the Bolts already had three players capable of playing center on the roster, with Al Hussaini, in particular, being the player that coach Black would like to see develop further after his promising rookie season and surprising productive stint with Ateneo when Black was still their head tactician.

But given that Ildefonso, 37, spent the vast majority of his career at center — the one position in the starting lineup currently up for grabs — re-signing him not only would have cost the team at least PhP 200,000 a month but roughly an additional PhP 100,000 a month once he invokes his self-proclaim position as the penultimate trainer of Meralco's big men.

The goal of the Bolts should not to be where they were in terms of record payroll, but to reduce the cost a little bit. It doesn't make sense to sign up Ildefonso again who can only muster career low last year 3.1 PPG, 2.2 RPG and 1.0 APG, while depriving the team additional resources that they could leverage for a much younger and promising center.

There is also an element of timing to the situation. After initially putting Ildefonso on the list of dispensable assets, the Bolts are not in a great position to pry seldom-used, but with great upside, players from the other squads such as Isaac Holstein of San Mig Coffee and Jewel Ponferada of the Globalport Batang Pier.

In the meantime, the Bolts have a solid frontline with Hugnatan, Al-Hussaini, Sena, Clifford Hodge, Sean Anthony and Rey Gueverra. They are still short on players who can match with the likes of Junmar Fajardo, Asi Taulava and Greg Slaughter, but that's what their D-League assets should try to address.

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