THE PBA Season 46 Rookie Draft is over and done with. The offseason trade frenzy is dying down, too. Time to settle down as most of the teams sit down and figure out how their lineups will look for the coming season.
Some are harder to figure out than others.
Take the case of NLEX. Yeng Guiao's pool was already well over the maximum 15 that PBA teams were allowed to sign before he got three more players in a three-way trade with TnT and Blackwater plus six more from Sunday's rookie draft.
That leaves Guiao with at least 24 players fighting for spots in both NLEX's regular lineup and 3x3 team, not counting Asi Taulava who has yet to officially retire.
The good news coming out of the NLEX camp is that No. 3 overall pick Calvin Oftana and second-rounder David Murrell have joined the Road Warriors' training along with new boy Don Trollano and all have impressed Guiao and his staff.
All three are shoo-ins for spots in the final NLEX lineup.
How about Maurice Shaw and Roi Sumang, who arrived in the NLEX camp from Blackwater by way of the three-team trade that saw Guiao send, grudgingly we must say, the No. 3 pick overall to sister team TnT?
The team is quiet on the two, although it is an open secret in league circles that Guiao or anyone in his team never asked for either of the two who, sources said, were thrown in to make the trade that allowed TnT to pick Fil-Am Mikey Williams acceptable before the eyes of the PBA trade committee.
So what are the chances of Shaw or Sumang, or both, making the NLEX lineup?
Slim to none, we heard.
Sumang, 30, had his best season as a pro with Blackwater in the PBA bubble, averaging 10 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists as a part-time starter for Nash Racela.
But not even those numbers may be enough to land him a spot in a crowded NLEX backcourt that already has Kiefer Ravena, Kevin Alas, Myke Ayonayon, Jericho Cruz, Bong Galanza, Kenneth Ighalo and Philip Paniamogan.
Shaw's situation is a little more tricky.
The 6-9 Fil-Am center grabbed at No. 2 overall by Blackwater in the 2019 draft but hardly made his presence felt in his league debut inside the PBA bubble, playing no more than three games at an average of 7.5 minutes per and contributing a grand total of 1 field goal and 2 rebounds.
Injuries were blamed for Shaw's mediocre league debut, but even before that there were already serious doubts if the former Harlem Globetrotter is capable of making an impact in the PBA even if completely healthy.
One NLEX insider was more blunt. Given a choice, he'd pick 48-year old Asi Taulava over Shaw any day of the week.
So what to do with Shaw and Sumang?
The crafty Sumang, who still has a year left in the contract he signed with Blackwater, may be given a chance to fight for a spot in the lineup no matter the odds, or perhaps settle for a stint in the inaugural PBA 3x3 league.
The choices for Shaw are limited, given he still has two more years left from the rookie contract the 36-year old signed with the Bossings. Unless NLEX can find a team willing to gamble on Shaw and his two-year contract, the Fil-Am big man will either be relegated to the Road Warriors' 3x3 team or bought out.
But let's hope it's not too late for Shaw to change NLEX's mind.