UNRESTRICTED free agency.
Plain and simple, it’s the bone of contention in the long-drawn contract disagreement between veteran guard Nico Elorde and NorthPort management.
The Batang Pier previously offered Elorde a two-year deal, but the former Ateneo guard preferred a short-term contract as he’s resolved to test the market by 2023 at the end of his seventh year in the league, which would make him an unrestricted free agent.
SPIN.ph learned NorthPort’s offer was for a two-year contract that would tie Elorde to the franchise until end of 2023, and deny him of his UFA status on his first year of eligibility.
Naturally, the 30-year-old grandson of the late boxing great Gabriel ‘Flash’ Elorde wasn’t amenable to it.
Long and short of it
Elorde later countered by asking for a one-year deal that was slightly higher in terms of monthly salary than the initial offer, but at the same time, would allow him to maximize his UFA rights once the contract expires.
NorthPort wasn’t hot on the idea.
And so the two parties found themselves still in a stalemate with just two days to go before the PBA Governors Cup returns at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Elorde is part of the 2015 draft class, or the batch of rookies who are next in line to become unrestricted free agents by next season.
Some of the notable members of the batch include top pick Mo Tautuaa, Troy Rosario, Scottie Thompson, Chris Newsome, Maverick Ahanmisi, Baser Amer, Don Trollano, Norbert Torres, Kevin Racal, Glenn Khobuntin, among others.
The 5-foot-9 Elorde was picked in the third round (33rd overall) by Alaska but left him unsigned. He ended up playing his rookie season with the KIA franchise, which was then being handled by boxing legend Manny Pacquiao.
But after his one-year stay with the team, KIA didn’t offer him a new contract and left him out in the free agent market.
NorthPort then picked him up as back-up to its then deadly backcourt of Stanley Pringle and Terrence Romeo before the start of the 2017-18 season.
Elorde stayed with the franchise until now when his last contract expired at the end of January.
He played sparingly in the four games he suited up for the Batang Pier in the season-ending meet as reliever to top gun Robert Bolick.
Incidentally, Bolick himself has also yet to reach a contract term with NorthPort together with big man Greg Slaughter.
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