THROUGH the years, players’ trades have become bigger news than the games in the PBA.
From the blockbuster deals to the minor ones, from fair to the not-so-fair, there’s always a buzz whenever negotiations between teams lead to either players changing places or draft picks changing hands.
The recent trade centering on Stanley Pringle was no exception. Regardless your opinion about it, the Pringle trade will go down as one of the most shocking pulled off in league history considering the stature of the shifty Fil-Am playmaker as one of the best – if not the best guard in PBA today.
So does it belong to the 10 biggest trades in PBA history? Let's take a look.
1. Ramon Fernandez-Abet Guidaben (1985 and 1988)
Arguably the biggest trade of all-time. An MVP for an MVP. A champion for a champion. A superstar for a superstar. And not just once but twice. Long-time rivals during the Crispa-Toyota heydays, Fernandez and Guidaben became tied to each other that they ended up as the subject of a one-on-one swap between Manila Beer and Tanduay in 1985 during the post-Redmanizers-Corollas season. ‘El Presidente’ obviously flourished from the trade after winning two championships and a third MVP trophy the following season as the Rhum Masters’ franchise player.
As fate would have it, the two Hall of Fame centers swapped places anew as the subject of yet another straight up trade involving Purefoods and San Miguel in 1988. By that time, Guidaben has already become the cornerstone of the Beermen squad, having won a championship with the team and clinched a second MVP title the season before. He also steered the team to the 1988 Open Conference title against a rookie Purefoods franchise, whose playing-coach was none other than Fernandez. But just when everything was going rosy for the 6-foot-5 Guidaben, the Hotdogs initiated a Fernandez-Guidaben trade deal with the Beermen amid allegations the former was involved in game-fixing. San Miguel went on to clinch the Reinforced championship by season’s end that paved the way for ‘El Presidente’ to win a fourth MVP crown. The following year, the Beermen completed what at that time was only the second grand slam in league history.
2. Jerry Codinera-Andy Seigle (1999)
Just when everybody thought Jerry Codinera was indispensable at Purefoods, the Hotdogs traded him to Mobiline for rising big man Andy Seigle. Codinera’s exit broke up one of the most imposing frontcourt partnerships ever in the league which he shared with four-time MVP Alvin Patrimonio. Seigle was the 1997 top draft pick who would be adjudged as Rookie of the Year that season. But Codinera, the so-called ‘Defense Minister’ had five championships, nine All-Defensive team selection, and was the first- ever recipient of the Best Player of the Conference award during the 1994 All-Filipino conference.
3. Marlou Aquino-Jun Limpot (2000)
Marlou Aquino was acknowledged as the cornerstone of Ginebra when it picked him No. 1 overall in the 1996 draft that resulted in a Commissioner’s Cup championship a year later. It was to everyone’s surprise then when the Gins sent him to Sta. Lucia in exchange for Jun Limpot, the 1993 Rookie of the Year who had underachieved in seven seasons with the Realtors. After much hesitation, the 6-foot-9 Aquino agreed to play for his former amateur ballclub where he went on to win two more PBA titles. Limpot never got to experience becoming part of a champion team until 2006 while playing for Purefoods.
4. James Yap-Paul Lee (2016)
This trade shook the league as James Yap had long been the face of the Purefoods organization since being picked No. 2 overall by the team in the 2004 draft. With the Hotshots, ‘Big Game James’ became a two-time MVP and won a total of seven championships including a grand slam in 2014. But not all good things last and the native of Escalante, Negros Occidental found himself on the move just before the 2016-2017 season when he was shipped to Rain or Shine for Paul Lee, considered one of the clutch players in the league today and an emerging superstar with the Elasto Painters with whom he won two titles.
5. Christian Standhardinger to San Miguel Beer (2017)
This one remains fresh in the minds of basketball fans as the trade stirred a controversy that shook the very foundation of the league. KIA agreed to send the 2017 No. 1 overall pick to San Miguel in exchange for Ronald Tubid, JayR Reyes, Rashawn McCarthy, and a 2019 first-round pick. The Beermen went on to use the pick to select rising big man Christian Standhardinger. The deal, approved by then Commissioner Chito Narvasa, sparked a heated debate that led to a rift within the PBA board, a discord that eventually led to the resignation of Narvasa.
6. Kenneth Duremdes-future picks (2003)
In one of the most dramatic draft-day trades, Alaska let go of Kenneth Duremdes for draft picks in a trade with Sta. Lucia. The deal was consummated a few minutes before the 2003 draft but was announced during the proceedings itself at the Glorietta Mall in Makati. The pride of Marbel, Cotabato was the 1998 MVP who won six titles with the Aces and was coming off a stint with the national team during the 2002 Asian Games in Busan. The trade finally broke the core of the Alaska champion team of the 90s that saw the franchise win a grand slam in 1996 a season before the arrival of ‘Captain Marbel.’ Curiously, the team used one of the draft picks gained from the Duremdes trade to select at No. 5 a Fil-Am named Brandon Cablay.
7. Nelson Asaytono-Renato Agustin (1996)
The two players involved in the hotly contested 1992 race for the MVP trophy found themselves trading places in 1996. After winning four championships with Swift/Sunkist, Asaytono was sent packing to San Miguel in exchange for Agustin, who beat ‘The Bull’ for the league’s highest individual honor four years earlier. Upon his arrival, Asaytono would become the Beermen’s go-to-guy under the great Ron Jacobs, but unfortunately, never got to steer the team to the Promised Land. At Swift, Agustin never get to enjoy the same success he had with San Miguel, where he was part of the team’s five championships, including the 1989 grand slam.
8. Allan Caidic to Ginebra (1999)
Allan Caidic going to Ginebra at the twilight of his career was not exactly a big trade deal had the ‘Triggerman’ been in his prime. But his transfer from San Miguel Beer to the league’s most popular ballclub sparked one of the enthralling story lines in PBA history. Caidic’s appointment as playing assistant coach by San Miguel management didn’t sit well with Ginebra’s charismatic mentor Robert Jaworski, who claimed he was not informed about the decision as the cage great was on leave at the time owing to his workload as a Senator. Caidic’s entry signaled the end of the Jaworski era at Ginebra, but paved the way for a new generation of players to take over the franchise.
9. Stanley Pringle to Ginebra (2019)
Happening in the age of social media, the trade that sent Pringle to Ginebra for the trio of Sol Mercado, Jervy Cruz and Kevin Ferrer inevitably became the talk of the town.
There were those who feel the Kings got the better of a lopsided deal, while others perceived it as reasonable enough since Mercado and Ferrer are major pieces in Ginebra coach Tim Cone’s rotation while Cruz has always been a solid contributor off the bench for the Kings.
But there's no doubt that it belongs among the 10 biggest deals in league history, considering how it impacted on the balance of power in the PBA and made the league's most popular team almost equal to powerhouse San Miguel in terms of firepower and depth. The effect of this deal will be felt immediately.
10. Terrence Romeo to San Miguel (2019)
Already teeming with talent, San Miguel became even deeper when it gambled on Terrence Romeo just before the start of the 44th season. The Beermen struck a deal with TnT Katropa to acquire the services of the enigmatic combo guard in exchange for Brian Heruela, David Semerad and a 2021 first-round pick. Romeo, a three-time scoring champion, had worn out his welcome at TnT in a trade with NorthPort for Moala Tautuaa when the Katropa decided to push the trade button after a reported clash between Romeo and some of his teammates. In all, the former UAAP MVP out of Far Eastern University only played two conferences for the Katropa.
Honorable mentions: Asi Taulava-Ali Peek (2007); Eric Menk-Elmer Lago, Alex Crisano (2002); Moala Tautuaa-Larry Rodriguez/Troy Rosario to TnT Katropa (2015); Danny Ildefonso-Noy Castillo (1999); Kelly Williams, Ryan Reyes to TnT (2010), Vergel Meneses-Noli Locsin.