PBA commissioner Chito Salud on Monday insisted he did not perceive any 'blatantly lopsided' trades during the PBA rookie draft amid the public outcry over Barako Bull's decision to trade its valuable first-round picks to Barangay Ginebra and Globalport.
Salud has come under fire from some fans for his perceived failure to veto the controversial draft-day trades that saw Barako Bull send the No. 4 pick overall to Ginebra for Rico Maierhofer and Willy Wilson and the fifth pick to Petron for rarely used playrs Mark Isip and Magi Sison.
That pick eventually landed on the lap of Globalport in a separate trade for Yousef Taha - a right the Batang Pier used to grab former Far Eastern University star Terrence Romeo.
Those deals - as well as a separate Barako trade for the No. 6 pick which Globalport got in exchange for Denok Miranda and used to take former UAAP MVP RR Garcia - have come under fire from fans, team officials and players in the media and on social networking sites.
They Said It!
“A team can strengthen its lineup through trades and/ or draft picks. I did not perceive any blatantly lopsided trades during the draft." - PBA commissioner Chito Salud
Former league MVP Eric Menk best captured the public sentiment over the trades when he tweeted on his account @EMenk30: "Barako Bull proves again today that they are the most "unselfish" team in the PBA......"
Even PLDT head Manny V. Pangilinan couldn't resist commenting about the issue. He said in a rare tweet: "Barako gave up all its 1st round picks, and did its 2nd round. "The world wonders" - Admiral Chester W Nimitz :)."
Still, Salud said he didn't see any trades on draft day that can be perceived as "blatantly lopsided."
"A team can strengthen its lineup through trades and/ or draft picks. I did not perceive any blatantly lopsided trades during the draft," Salud said in a statement released to media outlets.
Salud also refused to wade into the dispute over the possible motives of Barako Bull in trading away the first-round picks amid lingering accusations that the Energy Cola franchise is being run like a "farm team" of San Miguel-owned ballclubs.
"If the issue is the strategy, wisdom, and rationale behind Barako's or any other team's decision to trade their picks for current stars or vice versa, that's obviously not within my province to explain or second-guess," said the lawyer.
League insiders also bared that trades for draft picks can be announced on the draft floor without prior approval from the Commissioner's Office - an arrangement agreed upon by the league board.
A source confirmed that Salud was informed about the Barako trades right on the draft floor, although it is believed that the commissioner still holds the power to shoot down "blatantly one-sided deals" in the days after the rookie draft.
But judging from his statement, it is clear Salud has no plan to do so with regards to Barako Bull's controversial transactions.
"It remains clearly and solely within the ballclubs' prerogative and the teams would thus be in the position to explain the direction they have chosen to take, provided of course there are no one-sided trades involved," he added.
"In any case, I keep a watchful eye on these things as our member teams are aware."