AT least two teams are eager to talk if NLEX decides to entertain trade offers for Asi Taulava, the veteran big man who has seen little action in Yeng Guiao's short time in charge.
Although he's the PBA's oldest player at 43, Taulava, at least until last season, remained the cornerstone of the NLEX franchise, averaging a double double of 13.86 points and 10.31 rebounds to earn a place in the league's Mythical Second Team.
But his exposure has dipped significantly since Guiao took over from Boyet Fernandez in the offseason as the veteran coach went mostly with a young frontline made up on Bradwyn Guinto, Glenn Khobuntin, Eric Camson, and Raul Soyud.
Consequently, Taulava's minutes has dropped from an average of 31.83 minutes last season to 14.67 - and his average to 1.33 points and 2.67 rebounds.
That has sparked interest from two ballclubs - one an up-and-coming team with a solid backcourt but with a gaping hole in the frontline, and the other a young squad which feels it is one big man short of becoming a legitimate playoff contender.
One of these teams, in fact, had gone as far as send feelers to NLEX on a possible trade, but the message it got from the Road Warriors management is that Guiao has no plan to trade Taulava.
“May kumausap na sa management namin. As we all know, talagang rare commodity pa rin ang big man sa PBA lalo’t very dominant ang June Mar Fajardo,” said a source who asked not to be named.
If Guiao has no plan to trade Taulava, what's his plan then for the evergreen big man?
Although Guiao has relied heavily on low-posting big men like Nelson Asaytono (Swift), Davonn Harp (Red Bull) and Bonnel Balingit (Swift) early in his career, the multi-titled coach has found no need for one since shifting to a fast-paced, free-flowing offense late in his Red Bull stint and at Rain or Shine.
Instead, he has found a liking for big men who can run on fastbreaks and hit the open three-pointer - Beau Belga being the perfect prototype.
In the case of Taulava, the 2003 league MVP has a reliable jumper that nonetheless lacks range.
Although he remains among the best conditioned athletes in the league at 43, Taulava has missed games the past week after getting hospitalized for a bad case of migraines.
The true barometer for Taulava may come on Friday in the game against Guiao's former team Rain or Shine at the PhilSports Arena, where the NLEX coach may find more need for Taulava with Soyud sidelined by an injured shooting hand.
On how he performs may have great influence on his future at NLEX.