This past Saturday, the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) updated its policies on expired contracts, active contracts, and rookie eligibility to “keep up with the developments occurring across the globe.”

Recent months have required action from the league in regards to contract and draft-related concerns, such as players choosing not to sign new contracts with their mother clubs and draft-eligible players signing with teams from abroad leagues.

Limitations on free agency due to expired contracts

For players whose contracts had expired, the PBA stipulated a 30-day grace period during which clubs might begin contract talks with the player.

After 30 days, the player is free to negotiate with other clubs about playing for them if he isn’t happy with the offer he was given by his current team. However, his current team has the option of matching the offer and retaining his rights for another five days.

The youngster will have to sit out for a total of five years before he can return to the league if he does not sign with his mother club, which has matched the offer. While his original club retains his rights during that time, the player will be able to sign with any team in the league as a free agent after five years.

When the player’s contract expires, he has the option of returning to the league and accepting the mother team’s matching offer.

For instance, Ray Parks has been cleared by the TNT Tropang Giga to play in the Japan Professional Basketball League despite not having signed a new contract with the organization (B.League).

Does TNT still have the rights to Parks in the PBA, even if he may play in Japan?

TNT retains ownership of him until his return, although he is free to play in other leagues for five years, according to the league’s attorney, Atty. Melvin Mendoza.

Active Agreements

The league has said that pre-termination of active contracts should only be done for medical grounds.

For purposes of the PBA, retirement and leaves of absence qualify as contract terminations. If a player pre-terminates his contract, the club will be fined P20 million and the player would be expelled from the league.

If a player, however, refuses to respect the live contract, the league has warned that the club or the league may seek legal remedies, including the player’s exclusion from the PBA.

Inclusion/Exclusion from the Draft

The league has said that players must be 22 years old or older to be eligible for the next draft; however, athletes who are at least 19 years old and have attended college for at least two years may also become eligible for the draft.

In the event that Kai Sotto, who is now signed with the Adelaide 36ers of the Australia National Basketball League, theoretically decides to join the PBA, the league has said that he may do so in accordance with the 22-year-old regulation.

Players who are able to enter the draft but choose not to do so are given the option to do so, providing they agree to sit out for a period of five years. Within three years of being eligible, the player may also join the PBA, but they will be picked in a unique lottery.

If Thirdy Ravena joins the PBA in the future, this regulation about the minimum three-year eligibility period will apply to him.

Deals for newcomers

If a drafted player refuses to sign a contract, league rules state that he must sit out for five years, during which time his original club may sell or trade his rights to another franchise.

A salary limit on the first three drafted players will also be eliminated. However, a rookie’s wage can’t be more than the team’s salary limit allows for.

Rookies of mixed Filipino and non-Filipino ancestry

The league has set a cutoff age of 30 as the minimum age for Filipinos living abroad to enter the draft. If they don’t change their ways, they’re out of the PBA.

For instance, Maurice Shaw, who was picked in 2019, but is now 35, cannot participate in the draft this year.

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According to PBA commissioner Willie Marcial, these modifications are being made to reflect developments in the international professional basketball environment.

It’s time for us to make some changes,” Marcial remarked. “If I am no longer the commissioner, I have no doubt that change will persist. Because we recognize the importance of doing so, we will modify our approach based on current circumstances.”

And Eric Castro, the deputy commissioner, agreed with Marcial. Despite the expansion of basketball leagues in other Asian nations, he emphasized that the PBA remains a top employment in the Philippines.

Bobby Rosales, vice-chairman of the PBA Board of Governors, oversaw the league’s research committee that reviewed the league’s current laws and policies.

Former commissioner Chito Salud, Philippine Basketball League commissioner and lawyer Ogie Narvasa, Philippine Sports Commission attorney Alberto Agra, players Marcial, Castro, and Mendoza, and seasoned coach Joe Lipa are all part of this group.

Marcial clarified that the research group did not include any actual players but did include resource individuals like members of the media.

The league said today that the rules will be made available to clubs the following day, with team governors already having been briefed on the new regulations.

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