AS trade rumors continue to swirl around Marc Pingris, the Star Hotshots camp has confirmed that the team is done trading, at least before the start of the next PBA season.
Does that mean Pingris is staying?
Now handled by rookie coach Jason Webb, the Hotshots recently traded veteran forward Joe Devance to Barangay Ginebra in a trade that reunited him with former Star coach Tim Cone at the Kings' camp.
Rumors persisted that Pingris was put on the trading block after he became part of the Gilas Pilipinas team that played in the last Fiba Asia Championship in Changsha, China, but team sources insisted no trade will happen, or at least not in the immediate future.
Sources told Spin.ph that just before the Fiba Asia championships concluded, Webb has already asked management to let Pingris stay, saying the veteran forward is needed if Star is to have a successful season.
“Nakiusap si Jason na 'wag nang i-trade si Ping, kasi kakailanganin niya 'yun sa kanyang rookie year,” the source said.
Another reason that compelled Star to keep Pingris, sources said, is the possible upheaval from the team's fans who apparently are not too happy to see Devance and Cone move to the Ginebra camp.
“Right now, they might keep Ping pa. Mainit rin kasi ang tao eh. Galit na ang fans ng Star, una nawala coach nila, tapos nawala si Devance. Malamang mag welga na mga 'yan kung mawawala pa si Ping,” added the source.
Pingris is one of the crowd drawers of Star alongside fellow longtime stars James Yap and Peter June Simon.
So is 'Ping' staying put? Hardly.
Before the decision to keep Pingris, Star looked like a team stacking up on men capable of filling the void, grabbing La Salle big man Norbert Torres from the draft and getting Jake Pascual along with Ronald Pascual in the Devance trade.
A team official from another ballclub bared he got the impression that Pingris was no longer among the 'protected players' of Star when he talked to the team's management to explore possible deals.
“Kinausap namin sila, nagtanong kami kung sino ang mga pwede naming makuha (sa Star). 'Yung nakausap namin, sabi, 'Sige, except James Yap and Ian Sangalang,’” said the team official who asked not to be named.
“Sabi ko, 'Pwede ba si Pingris? Sagot niya, ‘Sige, itatanong ko.' Hindi pa ko ulit tumawag after nun,” he added smiling.
Meanwhile, Pingris' participation in the Gilas campaign caused a little friction between Star governor Rene Pardo and former Gilas coach and now Sports5 head Chot Reyes on Twitter.
Reyes posted a picture on his Instagram account where Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) top honcho Ricky Vargas was talking to Gilas players for a post-Fiba Asia meeting.
In his caption, Reyes quoted a portion from the statement of Vargas which supposedly went: “Thank you Alaska, Barako, GlobalPort, Meralco, NLEX, ROS, TNT and Marc Pingris!”
Pardo was obviously not happy with the statement, posting a reply to Reyes' timeline which said: “Sa alam ko player pa rin namin si Pingris, Chot.”
Reyes did not respond to the message of Pardo.