NLEX management said it will be happy to have draftees Paul Desiderio and Abu Tratter in the team if a proposed draft-day trade with Blackwater for big man Poy Erram fails to get the approval of the PBA Commissioner's Office.
NLEX coach Yeng Guiao made the biggest moves of Sunday's draft at Robinsons Place Manila, using the No. 4 pick previously acquired in a trade with Phoenix to tab Desiderio and the team's No. 7 selection on big man Tratter.
However, the excitement over the surprise picks had barely settled down when news leaked that the Road Warriors have agreed to trade the two draftees to Blackwater for Blackwater center Erram.
In a statement, NLEX confirmed it will be submitting the trade papers to the Commissioner's Office on Monday as the league board previously agreed to enforce a trade embargo on draft day.
The team admitted that as early as the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia in September, it has been discussing a trade involving the 6-7 Erram, who played for the Team Pilipinas side that finished fifth under Guiao.
"As far back as the Asian Games, the Blackwater Elite have been discussing a trade with us involving Poy Erram, a much-needed big man who impressed Coach Yeng during his stint with the national team," NLEX said in a statement.
The team also admitted that it agreed in principle with Blackwater to trade its first-round picks for Erram on the morning of the draft.
Because of the embargo, the deal couldn't be consummated.
In a separate interview with SPIN.ph, Guiao, who is also the team's general manager, admitted Blackwater was willing to let go of Erram if NLEX can deliver Desiderio and Tratter from the draft.
In a dinner the team hosted for its draftees after the ceremony, Guiao gave the assurance that the Road Warriors will be happy to have both Desiderio and Tratter in the event the trade is not approved.
“If the trade does not happen, we would have two great players to join us,” Guiao was quoted as telling the two draftees over dinner.
“And if it does push through, then we will battle each other. But either way, we are happy for you because you are assured of having a team in the PBA.”