Unrestricted free agent Chris Lutz bids SMB goodbye, agrees to join Meralco
Chris Lutz has not seen action for SMB since last year's Commissioner's Cup. Dante Peralta

CHRIS Lutz officially agreed to join Meralco this PBA season, ending his long association with San Miguel.

Bolts team manager Paolo Trillo confirmed to SPIN.ph that the Fil-Am guard already consented to joining the franchise after the team picked him up from the unrestricted free agent market.

“Yes, Chris agreed to join us,” said the Meralco official on Monday when the deal to acquire Lutz was formalized.

According to a source close to the 31-year-old Fil-Am, Alaska, TnT Katropa, and Blackwater were among the other teams that inquired about the availability of Lutz following San Miguel’s decision to put him in the unrestricted free agent list.

But in the end, Lutz opted to join a Bolts team that is currently struggling in its Philippine Cup campaign where it is at the bottom of the standings with a 2-7 record.

Lutz, a product of Purdie and Marshall Universities, is set to be introduced to the Bolts during practice on Tuesday, according to his manager Marvin Espiritu.

Meralco's confirmation comes just 11 days after SMB, which picked Lutz with the third pick overall in the 2011 PBA Rookie Draft, relegated the former Gilas Pilipinas mainstay to its UFAWR2S (unrestricted free agent with right to salary) list after signing Michael Mabulac.

[See Lutz now an unrestricted free agent, but can other teams get him?]

The 31-year old guard had been a mainstay in San Miguel's backcourt in his first four years in the league but has fallen out of Leo Austria's regular guard rotation while battling a number of injuries.

Lutz has not seen action since the Commissioner's Cup last season, with San Miguel officials giving out little detail on his status other than saying he's still recuperating from his injuries.

He is expected to be a big boost to the Bolts, who can find good use for a perimeter gunner and decent fastbreak finisher in a team that is fighting for survival in the season-opening conference.

Trillo however, said Lutz is not likely to play yet for Meralco this conference as he continues to recuperate from a back injury.

He added the Bolts likewise no longer need any clearance from Lutz's former team San Miguel since the 6-foot-3 guard has been put in the unrestricted free agent list.

"It's like the case of Gary David with us. We put him in the free agent list and San Miguel picked him up. No more need for a clearance since unrestricted naman siya," said Trillo.

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Players put in the UFAWR2S are left unprotected by their mother teams despite having live contracts. But once picked up by other ballclubs, the consent of the players are needed to formalize the deal.

 

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