LeBron’s imprint reaches PBA as Slaughter spills beans on salary cap transparency

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Credit this one to LeBron James’ player empowerment influence in the National Basketball Association (NBA). James’ pioneered the players’ imposition of their muscles to dictate playing for the team of their choice.

This imprint has obviously reached Philippine shores as Thirdy Ravena started the trend of playing for a team of his choice when the opportunity arose which was followed by lots of others shortly thereafter.

The latest development on this issue was full of impact as the atomic bombs dropped in Nagasaki and Hiroshima did for World War 2.

The contract renewal impasse between Northport Batang Pier and Greg Slaughter turned to worse as “Gregzilla” stood by his claim that the maximum offer filed by the Batang Pier with the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) league office is not really the amount paid, at least in his case. It was actually more than that.

According to spin.ph, Slaughter wrote a facebook comment to one of their stories stating “I don’t know why they insist on trying to fool the public. The bottom line is this ‘max offer’ is not even close to what Northport was already paying me.”

Yikes, this just opened a can of worms.

The ball is on the PBA’s side and what they do next might impact fan and player interest on patronizing the league.

The PBA must have to admit Filipinos no longer hold the distinction of being the only Asian nation crazy about basketball. The fact that the Philippines established the first basketball pro-league in the region but has been overtaken in sending homegrown talents to the NBA by other Asian nations tells an entirely different story.

The fanaticism for basketball has now reached various international bounds and professional leagues all over the region have sprouted, giving rise to the demand of talents performing for them.

Filipino players are one of the highest sought after talents and they will be foolish not to consider taking up on these opportunities.

On its part, the PBA remained stagnant in that it still aims to mainly cater Philippine audience only. Unfortunately, this model prevented them from fully benefiting from their early involvement in the sport.

The latest revelation from Slaughter shows its time the PBA and its board discard the thinking that winning PBA championships is the pinnacle of the success of the league. There is money to be made when they go for bigger aims.

First, how about joining the trend instead of going against it.

The PBA will become a better, more watchable league if it serves as a path for Filipinos to be recruited by higher paying leagues in Europe, China, Japan, Australia, and the United States.

This is so because games in the league will be forced to become more skill-based and skill development will be given more attention. This will result to more competitive players in the league.

No matter how one spins it, a PBA player’s contract has to be bought out if he gets to play abroad and buying out contracts is one way a team can positively impact itself and a player economically.

While player turnover will definitely increase, the PBA should not worry about talent drain because there are abundant raw Filipino talents who can make the PBA a watchable league. They just need the right training methods and exposure to become entertaining players which the PBA can provide.

Second, how about the PBA giving all teams equal footing in building up a team roster. Equal footing may not necessarily be equal amount spent for player salaries.

The PBA has labeled as a league leaning favorably to San Miguel and Manny Pangilinan teams. Slaughter’s revelation, as well as Fred Uytengsu’s departing speech, gave strong reinforcements to this claim.

This should make the PBA rethink how to implement its salary cap which is failing to deliver on its team parity objective.

It’s obvious the PBA wants to copy the National Football League (NFL) model of a hard salary cap but the side deals attached to a formal player’s contract renders it ineffective.

If the league could not eliminate agreements that makes the maximum salary under the salary cap not the highest pay for a player, then it may worth looking at the Major League Baseball’s (MLB) no salary cap model.

This model will surely give bigger and richer teams undue advantage but it removes prohibitions for all teams to act openly when recruiting players.

This model will reinforce the “farm teams” label for independent teams but it will also allow them to make better decisions on how big can they go to pursue a player, when to offer the big contracts and for how long.

Extended dominance by richer teams with occasional challenges from independent teams will probably result if no salary cap is implemented. Well, this is what exactly happened in the past few years anyway.

This model, however, gives independent teams the transparency they need to be a better competitor in acquiring a player.

Photo from PBA images