What's Holding Up Espinas?

On: 01 August 2009

Espinas versus Williams

Everyone familiar with the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) will find it strange that Sta. Lucia Realtors' acquisition of Gabby Espinas - a small move to secure a bench forward - would take more than 2 weeks to complete. But in the crazy world of free agency, trading and draft picks, nothing is ever easy.

For the Realtors, the motivation is simple. They need to lock up a backup for prolific forward Kelly Williams and help aging Marlou Aquino and Dennis Espino secure those rebounds, and Espinas is their guy. He's is willing to play for the Realtors and he's cheap. Just by giving up a small price tag (their number 6 pick in the draft), the Realtors can have a player that produces 12.7 points and 8.9 rebounds per night.

For Espinas, therein lies the problem. His current team, Redbull Barakos, is supposedly trying to rebuild around new guys from the draft. However, they are still trying to find out who can they pick at number 6 if they agree to trade Espinas for that choice. Espinas wants to be with a team with loaded enough with talents that could give a chance to win a championship. The Barako's cannot give him that and they are still uncertain who to pick at this time.

No one's at fault here. Both Espinas and the Realtors are in very understandable positions. Breaking down the Barakos' motives is where things get a little tricky.

The Barakos are being coached by a man who knows a thing or two about winning championships. His name is Leo Isaac. It's pretty easy to win titles as a player and Coach Isaac knows this, but as the brain behind the outfit, it gets a bit complicated. There are, of course, exceptions, but there are basically two ways to build a winning team in the NBA.

You can try to build for right now, by going after the best players available and spending big money on big contracts. That method works for San Miguel Beermen and and Talk N' Text Phone Pals. Or you can build for the future, picking up a bunch of expiring contracts now, losing in the short-term, and then dropping the dead weight in 2010 and going after the marquee free agents with all the newfound salary cap space.

The Redbull management defies the two-party system. Coach Isaac has no grandiose plan to win now, and he has no plan to win later, either. He's stuck in the middle of the road, setting up camp, and it's a difficult place for any PBA team to be. No one likes steering a team with alleged financial problems, which resulted to the migration of its core players to richer teams. The sad reality is that losing Larry Rodriguez, Jeff Chan, Mike Hrabak and possibly, Espinas has a way of breeding a couple of last-place finishes. Leo Isaac is stuck in basketball purgatory.

If the Barakos continue to dilly-dally with the Realtors, this whole trade idea surrounding Gabby Espinas might just be a pipe dream. Unfortunately for Espinas, he could easily end up the highest performing player of a luckless team with no chance of winning a title in the next 2 years or so.

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