RAIN or Shine will definitely not give up star player Paul Lee without a fight.
Aware that other teams are after the services of the high-scoring combo guard once his contract with the Elasto Painters expires at the end of the month, team governor Mert Mondragon bared the company has already offered Lee the maximum allowable contract on Tuesday.
“Nagbigay na kami sa manager niya (Lawrence Chongson) kahapon ng offer sheet. Maximum yun. P420,000 (a month) tapos three years,” said Mondragon.
“Siguro naman wala na silang hihingin pa run. Maximum na yun. Alam naman niya (Chongson) na we follow the rules. The rule says P420,000 ang maximum, P420,000 ang offer namin,” added the soft-spoken lawyer.
“Kung may ibang team na magagawa pa ring lagpasan `yung offer namin na maximum, nakakapagduda na 'yun. Mas malamang ‘over da bakod, under the table’ na yun,” said Mondragon.
The three-year deal is worth P15.12 million. But that's not all.
PBA operations head Rickie Santos gave Spin.ph a rundown of the allowable bonuses a player like Lee stands to get under the uniform player contract (UPC) of the teams.
Santos said all won-game and phase bonuses are also capped by the league.
Teams are allowed to give its players up to P6,000 in won-game bonuses during the eliminations and quarterfinals. The bonus cap climbs to P8,000 in semifinals and P10,000 in the finals.
On the other hand, the phase bonus for a player must not exceed one-fourth of his monthly salary when the team reaches the quarterfinals, three-fourths of his monthly pay in the semis, and one-and-half months upon entering the finals.
The league has no limit on bonuses given by teams for championship, although the minimum bonus required is equivalent to two months of the players’ salary.
“Nire-report sa amin yan. Fifteen days after opening, may reporting ng monthly salaries ng mga players tapos 15 days after last game of conference yung reporting of bonuses naman,” said Santos.
Santos declared the league has been very strict in going through the submitted UPCs of all the teams.
“Yung mga submitted and declared amount nila na UPC, talagang mahigpit kami dun. Sa amin kung ano lang ang allowed, `yung lang ang pinapayagan namin,” he said.
Santos said performance bonuses are not allowed under the UPC.
“Pag may ibang labag, pinapa-alis namin sa contract. Kunwari may nakalagay na 20 points above ang score ng player, may bonus, wala yun. Pinapaalis namin yun,” added Santos.
Asked what would be their next course of action if Lee’s camp refuses to sign the offer sheet, Mondragon bared the franchise will protect its rights under the league's rules.
“Nasa rules 'yun. Pag hindi sila pumirma, he will be banned from playing,” said Mondragon.
Under the PBA guidelines on contract renewals, a team will own the playing rights of a player in perpetuity if a ballclub's maximum offer is declined.
The same rule applied to Asi Taulava when he was offered a maximum P420,000 monthly pay by the Meralco Bolts in 2012.
When Taulava refused to renew his contract, Meralco held on to his playing rights and only released the veteran big man in September 2013 when it traded his rights to Air21 Express for Mike Cortez.
“Talagang gagawin lang naman namin ang rights namin. And besides, Paul started with us. We want to keep him in the team,” he said.
Mondragon expressed optimism Lee will sign again with Rain or Shine, his home since turning pro in 2012.
But the longtime Asian Coatings franchise official expressed alarm at how Lee’s manager approached them and asked for a meeting with team owners Raymund Yu and Terry Que.
“Nag-re-request siya na makausap pa raw muna niya 'yung mga may ari ng team. Kasi kaibigan din daw naman niya `yung dalawa. Pero sabi ko nga sa kanya, ‘Pirmahan mo na muna yan, saka mo sila puntahan,'” said Mondragon about his conversation with Chongson.
“Dun medyo nagtaka ako dahil bakit kailangan pa niyang kausapin ang mga owners ng team,” he said.
The way Lee performed the past season, the former University of the East star stands to become the most sought after point guard in the free agent market.
The Gilas Pilipinas guard averaged 12.91 points, 3.60 rebounds, and 3.38 assists per game last season.
“Wala naman kaming masamang intension kay Paul. We will give him a maximum salary. That’s what the rule says, yun ang susundin namin,” stressed Mondragon.
“If the rule says P700,000 ang maximum, P700,000 kami. Kaso P420,000 lang ang maximum eh. I’d like to believe the other teams can only offer the same amount,” he said.