THE first blockbuster trade of the conference is set to happen any time soon.
A source bared to Spin.ph that San Miguel Beer, Barako Bull, and Barangay Ginebra are set for a three-player trade that will add key pieces to their lineups two weeks into the season-ending PBA Governors Cup.
Under the trade that has been agreed in principle, Ginebra will finally get hold of a player new head coach Frankie Lim has long coveted, Marcio Lassiter, from San Miguel in a trade that will have Barako Bull as the third party.
In turn, Ginebra will be sending forward Mac Baracael to Barako Bull which, in turn, will be moving in-form forward JC Intal to the San Miguel camp to complete the three-way deal, sources added.
Spin.ph first reported Ginebra's desire to get Lassiter, who, the source said, fits the mold of the two-way player Lim wants for Ginebra - the reason he got Sol Mercado in an earlier swap for Joseph Yeo.
Lassiter has played minimal action in the Beermen's first three games this conference, supposedly because of a viral infection, while Baracael has averaged just five minutes a game since Lim took over as Ginebra coach.
Spin.ph sources had earlier tagged Baracael along with Yeo as two of four Ginebra players likely to be traded soon, leaving LA Tenorio and Jayjay Helterbrand as the players untouched from that list, so far.
From the four, Yeo was the first to go with the trade for Mercado, who has taken over the starting point guard spot for Ginebra from Tenorio in Ginebra's 105-98 wn over KIA on Wednesday night.
Baracael played less than five minutes in that win.
Sources said the parties have been juggling the pieces for the trade for a while now, but deals have been left pending since SMC big boss Ramon S. Ang has been in and out of the country for the past weeks.
A final deal will need the approval of the SMC big boss, who, sources said, is bent on transforming Ginebra into a champion team after the championships won by Purefoods (now Star) and San Miguel.
On the other hand, Intal, who has had previous stints with Ginebra and Purefoods, is playing the best basketball of his pro career and should be a welcome addition to the Beermen camp.
The former Ateneo star is averaging 20.5 points and nine rebounds for Barako in the conference, earning a Player of the Week citation from the PBA Press Corps.
Once the trade is completed, the only problem for Ginebra is on how to fit Lassiter to the team under the league rule that limits teams to only five Fil-foreign players in their lineup.
The Gin Kings currently have Fil-foreign players in the lineup, Gregory Slaughter, Josh Urbiztondo, Sol Mercado, Chris Ellis and Dorian Pena.
Helterbrand, who grew up in the US, is not considered a Fil-Am as he was born in the Philippines to Filipino biological parents.
That, however, won't be a problem for now since Ellis has been ruled out for the rest of the season after undergoing ankle surgery.