CHICAGO - Five Sundays since he was taken with much fanfare as the fourth overall pick in the 2021 PBA draft, Mikey Willliams is still a player without a contract.
Resolute in their belief that the fleet-footed guard can be a franchise cornerstone and possible replacement for the iced Bobby Ray Parks Jr, the TNT Tropang Giga traded for the rights to acquire him last March.
But why is he still an unofficial member of the team?
Apparently, there is a price issue with the prized asset.
A source familiar with the situation told me that Williams made "P300k a month with extra bonuses" during his time with the MPBL, a figure that the player appears to be comfortable with as a starting point of his salary with TNT.
And that's where the negotiations have hit a thick, sturdy wall of Big Boss Cement.
The rookie salary is cappped at 200k. The gap of 100k may not be much at a cursory glance but when you multiply it to 12 months and three years the difference bloats to an eye-popping P3.6 million.
It's not enough to buy Mikey's cozy dream condo at Bonifacio Global City, but P3.6 million sure is a lot of cellphones on the table.
The dizzying amount of zeros perplexed star reporter Snow Badua, a former commissioner of the MPBL who has seen the league's books and is aware of its spending.
"Wala akong alam na pagkukunan ng monthly," (I don't know where the league draws those funds) Badua told me.
But having once hung around the orbit of the legendary boxer turned senator, Snow and I both agreed that Manny can be preposterously generous and it's possible that Mikey did get paid that much.
Either way, it is also clear that TNT has the financial wherewithal to meet Mikey's asking price.
According to a league source, however, the Tropang Giga are reluctant to write the fat check.
"If they give the $6k and the vets find out then it will rock the boat. Besides, a player must prove his worth first before he gets a much higher pay in this next contract."
When we spoke last month, Williams told me he hasn't officially hired an agent. He did say Marvin Espiritu, son of the iconic Danny Espiritu, is "helping me out."
I got a hold of Williams last Friday. He informed me that he remains in Los Angeles keeping up with his workout regimen while preparing for the PBA restart, whenever and wherever that is.
Although tight-lipped about his contract, he offered me some morsel of info to digest on.
"We're close," he assures me. "I will let you know when it's good to go and I sign."
So the Williams-TNT marriage isn't a closed deal just yet.
No clue. TNT is just as mum as a mob foot soldier.
I know contract negotiations can be tedious, frustrating. and stressful.
But 35 days is more than enough time to come to an agreement.
Yes, there is a pandemic. But yes, there's also Zoom and the last time I checked, TNT is in the communications business. I'm sure they can pick up one of their products and dial Mikey's 818 area code.
After Parks' bungled contract renewal, TNT is facing another potential impasse that doesn't reflect well on the team's otherwise sterling standing when it comes to taking care of their own.
At some point you have to wonder, are the Tropang Giga the common denominator in these very public contract disagreements?