03 September 2015

After Draft, Contract Negotiation Is Next For Bolts

With the long off-season before the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) resumes its games officially, there is a large amount of time available for the Bolts to assess and reassess the expiring contracts of its 11 players. An in-depth assessment is expected after the annual Rookie Draft in August before the team decides who to sign.

Bolts team manager Paolo Trillo said that there are no current negotiations for the players with expiring deals as the team continues to evaluate all their talents on a game-by-game basis.

"I won’t get into their names anymore but we have about 11 guys expiring and we want to assess the whole team at the end of the season and then we'll decide what we want to do," Trillo tells Rappler.

"So right now we’re just assessing all the players based on their performance each and every night. That's what we’re going to do at the end of the season. We'll assess."

One of the confirmed players whose contract is up is veteran scorer Gary David, whose last deal was a PhP 15.1 million extension he signed with Powerade in 2012.

David, whose first contract as a PBA rookie in 2004 was a Php 70,000-per-month deal, is currently averaging 13.3 points per game in the 2014-2015 season - the lowest mark in his career since he put up 9.9 points per game for Air21 in the 2005-2006 season. In his rookie season (2004-2005) he churned out 6.9 points per game.

The 36-year-old David is also averaging just 26.6 minutes a game in the previous season, his lowest in 9 years. There have been mentions that the dip in his playing time is due to the arrival of Japanese import Seiya Ando, who’s averaged 11.3 points with the Bolts in the last conference of the season.

When asked if Ando’s arrival or their contract situation is affecting David’s or any of the other expiring players' play, Trillo said that the guys up for extension should use the Governors’ Cup as a venue to prove their value to the Bolts.

"Well, there are two ways of looking at it," said Trillo. "If their contract is expiring, they want to play hard, they want to play well, to prove to management that they deserve to be on the team. The other mentality would be they’d be worried and not play well."

"We’re after winners, not losers, so [there are] two mentalities: [the] loser’s mentality, they can go to another team if they want; [the] winner's mentality, if they play hard every night, give their hundred percent, and we feel that they deserve to be on the team, then obviously we’ll sign them up. That’s not going to be a problem at the end of the season."

Under the PBA salary cap rules, players can receive a maximum deal of PhP 420,000 a month.

The previous PBA season is Head Coach Norman Black and Trillo's first with the Meralco franchise. When they assess their plays following the Governors' Cup, the decisions they plan to make will depend on the foundation they want to build for Meralco’s future.

"Obviously Coach Norman and his staff have been assessing the guys not only in this conference but the whole year. And then of course we have the upper management who have also been following all the games," said Trillo.

"There’s no step-by-step process, really. All we know is that at the end of the year - obviously we're all going to get together, meet, discuss, and talk about it."

"We’re looking at a number of things, obviously," the team manager said. "Like I said, we’re looking for winners; guys who want to play for us. Of course the talent level, the skill level, the heart - these are all things you want to consider. At the end of the day though, it’s the total player that we’re looking at."

Trillo says they will give everybody a "fair chance" come assessment time. But the available roster spots may be shorter than it is now thanks in part to the upcoming PBA Draft, where the Bolts have two picks in the first round.

"That’s big for us," Trillo said about Meralco having two selections.

"It really depends on where we land (who they’re going to pick). At the end of the second conference we were ranked third, which is GlobalPort’s pick, and eighth, which is our pick. I don’t know how that’s going to fall after the year, but [there are] a lot of good players."

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