SOL Mercado could end up not playing for Phoenix in the PBA 45th season.
The Fil-Am guard has been told by Fuel Masters management that he’s free to look for any team willing to sign him after negotiations for a new contract between the two parties bogged down.
A person close to Mercado confirmed the go-signal Phoenix had given to the camp of the 35-year-old combo guard.
“We were told to look for any interested team,” said the source on Monday after the Fuel Masters’ tune-up game against Alaska at the Upper Deck gym.
Mercado was acquired by the Fuel Masters in an offseason trade for the service of LA Revilla.
The same person admitted Phoenix management had initially talked about plans of not signing up the guard from Sacramento, California as the team has a surplus of players in the backcourt.
“To be fair with them (management), they already said that they have no plans of signing up Sol,” added the source.
But nonetheless, the Fuel Masters opened negotiations with Mercado’s camp, only for the talks on a new deal to bog down a week ago.
The bone of contention, sources said, was Mercado’s big salary from his previous contract.
More than the signing of Mercado, there is bigger urgency for the Fuel Masters’ priority to beef up a frontcourt depleted by injuries to Jake Pascual and Dave Marcelo.
Also, Calvin Abueva, the team’s top rebounder during last season’s Philippine Cup, has yet to be reinstated afer being slapped with an indefinite suspension last year.