This is one of the reasons why the PBA has stagnated all these years. Back in the day, PBA teams do not wrestle with free agency in the middle of the conference. Now, it feels as if it's prevalent and it really boils down to the league's problem with transparency.
Again, it's shitty to say that the league is protecting the safety of the players whenever they hide their salaries. For starters, some teams reveal the salaries of their stars. Furthermore, it saves them from getting bad contracts. When the league introduced its free agency, I thought this would be a good thing.
With that said, those who try to one-up the system end up getting benched or ping-ponged. Now I understand why most free agents stick it out with the big PBA teams. At least if they can't realize their potential, they can shore up their bank accounts. Why care for a Hall of Fame career if those achievements can't pay for your kid's tuition, right?
Phoenix offered Topex Robinson a six-month coaching contract. Leo Austria got bumped off in the middle of the Commissioner's Cup and has since ceded his coaching reins to Jorge Gallent. And then, there's Robert Bolick sitting out the Northport games due to contract negotiations.
Contracts should be discussed in the preseason. This is why this is called the preseason. I don't get the fact that teams with big-time executives can't seal the deal during a season's preparation phase. If the player doesn't want to sign, then teams will use the draft as well as free agency to go for a Plan B. In the current PBA setup, Plan B is to destroy the weak teams by "harvesting" their stars.
It's just nuts.
And as polarizing as Leo Austria is to most Pinoy fans, I think he is one of the best coaches in the PBA. Unlike at the collegiate level, PBA coaches also need to massage the egos of their players. Baby Dalupan and Dante Silverio are masters in this field with Dalupan doing it for the Crispa Redmanizers and the 2-time almost-grand slammers, the Great Taste Coffee Makers, and Silverio, who had the likes of Estoy Estrada, Arnie Tuadles, Danny Florencio, Abe King, and others accepting their roles as henchmen to the triumvirate of Ramon Fernandez, Francis Arnaiz, and Robert Jaworski.
Before Austria went to the Beermen, they were still in their Petronovela phase. There was a time when Arwind Santos and Jay Washington fought for top-dog status. San Miguel made several attempts to bury the talents of Danny Ildefonso, Danny Seigle, Dondon Hontiveros, Olsen Racela, and Dorian Pena in a time when they can still tear it up. Racela, in particular, had to help the Beermen look for the next Olsen Racela even if he can still provide quality minutes. I mean, inasmuch as you can never go wrong with Alex Cabagnot, LA Tenorio, and Mike Cortez, the Beermen also had to test the likes of Paul Artadi, Jonas Villanueva, and Bonbon Custodio. While I am not dissing the latter three mentioned, I just think Racela can still go when these guys were auditioning as his successor.
And returning to Austria, how many coaches has the Beermen had after Jong Uichico? Austria normalized the Beermen. Sure, it helped that he had June Mar Fajardo but it also helped their dynasty that Santos and Cabagnot were game to hand the big boy reins to June Mar Fajardo. Before joining San Miguel, people saw Terrence Romeo as a headcase and he has been a model player since joining the squad. And the Death Five slowly transitioning to reduce roles before they were traded to other teams? They were okay with this because Leo Austria made things right.
Up until now, this is still happening. Just now, Paul Zamar has been sent to Northport so the Beermen can bench Allyn Bulanadi. Converge has re-acquired a couple of players from the old Alaska team. And now, it's Phoenix's turn to act as the conduit for TNT to acquire Justin Chua. Rain or Shine is slowly disintegrating in front of us with the rest of the small market teams in the realm of the championship abyss.
At least TNT, Meralco, and NLEX are doing their thing poorly, especially with how the last few seasons have been.
The Ginebra versus Bay Area finals generated a lot of buzzes but you can't piggyback on this. The best way for the PBA to bank on that is if the same number of fans are supporting the likes of Blackwater and the rest of the small-market squads. Ginebra will always draw and the rest of the league can only really on San Miguel and Magnolia for parity.
Anyway, again, for the PBA to succeed, they need to adjust whatever it is they are doing and just give the fans a sneak peek at how team ownership works. Yes, they are probably secretive because they don't want to expose their trade secrets but this is only good when the trade secret works.