PBA implements new rules on free agency, rookie eligibility

Photo from PBA

The PBA has implemented new policies on free agency and rookie eligibility in the light of several issues such as those involving brothers Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena and Ray Parks Jr.

PBA commissioner Willie Marcial, deputy Eric Castro and legal counsel Melvin Mendoza bared the new guidelines Saturday, July 24 following months of discussions by a study group tasked to review existing league policies.

New free agency regulations for expired contracts were as follows:

  • (A) Player with expired contract and with no offer from mother team is an unrestricted free agent.
  • If a player has an expired contract and the mother team offers him a contract:
    • The team has 30 days from contract expiry to negotiate a new contract.
    • If the player does not accept the offer of the mother team, he can entertain offers from other teams after the 30th day.
    • The mother team shall exercise its right to match within five days from receipt of the offer from another team.
    • If the player receives an offer from another team and the mother team matches the said offer but the player refuses to sign up with the mother team, the player will sit out for five years before he can return to the PBA.
    • The team retains its right over the said player during the five-year sit-out period. The player become an unrestricted free agent after five years.
    • If the player returns to the PBA within two years from contract expiration, he will have to accept the matching offer of the mother team. If the player fails to return within two years, he will have to complete the five-year sit-out period before he can return to the PBA.

For players with live contracts:

  • Live contracts cannot be terminated, except for medical reasons. The sanctity of the contract should be honored and respected.
  • Pre-termination of the contract by the team and by the player based on any other ground will be considered a serious breach and should not be allowed.
  • Leave of absence or retirement is tantamount to contract pre-termination and should not be allowed.
    • If this happens, the player will be banned from the PBA, the team will be fined P20 million and the PBA may avail of legal remedies.
    • If it is the player alone who refuses to honor a live contract, he will be subject to the following:
      • The team and or the PBA may avail of legal remedies
      • The player will be banned from the PBA

The new measures, especially the unrestricted free agency, were crafted after a bitter contract negotiations between Parks and TNT Tropang Giga.

TNT eventually allowed the release of Parks, who is rumored to be heading to Japan to join a list of Filipino cagers who were signed by clubs in the first and second division of the B.League.

The sanctity of a live contract was something the league cited when it initially barred Kiefer Ravena from suiting up for the Shiga Lakestars, who announced the signing of the NLEX guard in early-June.

The league eventually agreed to let Kiefer pursue his B.League stint on the condition that he completes his NLEX stint after the ongoing Philippine Cup and that he will return to the PBA after one year.

Similar five-year sit-out rules were also instituted in the following rookie eligibility rules:

    • 22 years old and above or with a minimum of two years in college and should be 19 years old
    • An applicant who is eligible to join the draft may opt not to join the draft, but the following rules shall apply:
      • He will have to sit out for five years before he can join the draft.
      • He can choose to join the draft within three years from the date of his eligibility, provided he will be drafted through a special lottery among the 12 teams.
      • If he fails to join the draft within three years, he will have to sit out an additional two years to complete the five-year sit-out period.
      • If a drafted player of the team fails to agree on the terms of a contract, the player will have to sit out for five years without the need for an arbitration by the commissioner. The team can assign its right over the player during the five-year sit-out period.
      • The rookie maximum cap for the top three draftees is lifted, provided it will not exceed the maximum salary cap.
    • Fil-foreign applicants can join the draft until they are 30 years old.

It would be recalled that there were talks of Thirdy Ravena being banned after entertaining offers to play overseas, which eventually led to his breakthrough signing with the San-En Neophoenix of Japan.

Thirdy had to also write a letter to the league which explained his decision to re-sign with the Neophoenix for another season following an injury-riddled 2020-21 campaign.