JOE Devance isn’t going nowhere despite Barangay Ginebra’s decision to relegate him to the unrestricted free agent list 48 hours before the Kings return to action in the PBA Philippine Cup.
A source privy to the deal but refused to be identified pending an official statement from team management told SPIN.ph an arrangement between the two parties was already reached prohibiting Devance from accepting offers from other teams despite his current status.
Players relegated to the unrestricted free agent list can be signed anytime by other teams, provided there is no concrete understanding between the player and his mother ballclub.
“May pre-arrangement na sila that Joe will not entertain offers if he’s approached by other teams. Otherwise, hindi papayag ang Ginebra to downgrade him as an unrestricted free agent,” explained the source.
“Besides, tingin mo papayag ba si Joe na umalis pa sa Ginebra? Or si Tim (Cone), papayag ba na mawala siya sa Ginebra?”
Cone and the 6-foot-7 Fil-Am from Honolulu, Hawaii go a long way back in a partnership that began with Alaska in 2008, extended to Star, and later on with the Kings.
The 35-year-old forward won all of his eight championships with the 60-year-old American mentor at the helm, including a grand slam in 2014 while still with the Hotshots.
Devance has been a vital piece in the Kings’ back-to-back title conquest in the Governors Cup the last two seasons in which he played hurt both times in the finals – twice against Meralco – owing to bone spurs on his foot.
He deferred going under the knife the past two years until the Kings successfully retained their title in the season-ending meet last October.
The Kings decided on Friday to downgrade Devance, a six-time All-Star and top overall pick in the 2007 draft, to the unrestricted free agent list as he continues to recuperate from a long-delayed foot surgery he underwent during the off-season.
Another Ginebra player in Art dela Cruz was also given the same status as Devance after re-injuring his Achilles tendon just before the start of the all-Filipino conference.
The move paved way for Ginebra to sign into active duty guard John Wilson and big man Jericho de Guzman in time for the team’s game against Globalport this Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Cone earlier said he expects Devance to be back in active duty by mid-February after initially ruling him out for the entire all-Filipino campaign.
The veteran big man was seen walking with a protective boots on his left leg during the Kings' 89-78 debut win over the Magnolia Hotshots on Christmas Day at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.