03 October 2015

PBA Contract: Who Signs First?

Mahindra Enforcers
Alex Nuyles still don't have any team in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) after he was unceremoniously dropped by his former team Kia Carnival, now known as Mahindra Enforcers, at the end of the 2014-2015 season.

However, far from being dismissed as one of those daily transactions in the league, the case of the 26-year-old combo guard generated interest after he posted his plight in Facebook.

“They offered a contract, I signed, short notice, contract was not valid? I guess no more PBA games for me this year? Missing my old team,” Nuyles said in a post, with a photo of him shooting a free throw in a Rain or Shine jersey.

Mahindra team manager Eric Pineda explained to INQUIRER.net that Nuyles’ ouster from the team is as simple as management’s decision.

“With the change of our name from Kia to Mahindra, the top management also changed, and with that, we had a new head of basketball operations,” he said.

“Lahat ng mga contracts na pinirmahan ng mga players, naka-hold at binago lahat. (All of our players’ contracts were held and changed.) They had a say on the players they want, and it so happened that di nila gusto yung pinakita ni Alex (they didn’t like what Alex brings) that time and they didn’t want to sign him.”

“We talked to Alex’s manager and explained that although he signed a contact, that was never signed by the management and there was no UPC (uniformed player contract) handed out to the player. The head of basketball operations felt that he wasn’t fit with our new system,” added Pineda.

Now, this begs the question: who should sign the PBA contract first? Should it be the player, the management or both at the same time? This was the topic of discussion in many online forums with a lot of opinions.

Legally there is no rule about what party should sign the contract first. However, from a business perspective, a lawyer's advice to the PBA team is to always have the player sign the contract first. The rationale is simple, most of time the team owner does not have a bid bond that forces the player to sign the contract within a specific period of time. If the owners signs first they lose some of their leverage. When a owner signs the contract first, that represents an offer to the player.

Unlike “mission impossible” where things self-destruct, that offer remains open. The player has the right to accept or reject the offer within a reasonable period. A disreputable player may withhold signing the agreement as leverage to negotiate better terms because the owner wants or needs to get the team ready soonest.

If the owner takes the position that the player has to sign the agreement first and if the former delays in signing the contract, the owner could hire another player to play for the team. If the team owner signs it first, they would need to provide notice to the player in cases where they need to rescind their offer. This has to be done before the player signs the contract.

Since there is no requirement in place that would require written notice if the owners felt that the player was delaying the process with the signing, they could always call all the parties to a meeting with a credible witness listening and ask the player's group about the status. If they say it hasn’t been signed yet, team owners could give them a verbal notice that they are rescinding the offer and confirm that in writing.

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