Change of scenery: Five PBA players who are better off traded

The last playing date of the 2016 Oppo Commissioner’s Cup is on April 15 (Friday) at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

This means that the PBA trade deadline for this conference will be on April 1 because Commissioner Chito Narvasa adjusted it to 14 days before the close of the initial phase of the conference (eliminations round). The trade deadline was previously set at the end of the eliminations during the reign of Atty. Chito Salud.

A couple of unexpected trades were already executed this conference (Fortuna to GBP; Kyle Pascual to Blackwater in exchange for Jason Ballesteros to Mahindra) and a few more might be on the works since Joseph Yeo is still with GlobalPort and Gary David has not found a new home yet.

There are players not playing enough or not playing at all with their current teams who can contribute more if traded to opposing teams. With the upcoming April 1 trade deadline for players to be traded during the Commissioner’s Cup, here are 5 players that are better off traded to other teams.

1. Chris Lutz, San Miguel Beermen

Lutz had his best year during his rookie season (2011-2012) where he averaged 15.4 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists while playing 35.4 minutes. From there, Lutz became the lead swingman (SG/SF) for the Beermen and that lasted for a few years. Back then, he was considered effective and productive.

Now, Lutz sits on the bench more instead of playing on the court because Marcio Lassiter has replaced him as SMB’s best SG and on some nights, the older Ronald Tubid plays more than Lutz.

Needless to say, Lutz can definitely help other teams who are in need of a solid wing defender who can also convert perimeter shots every now and then. Lutz can even play a little bit of PG when the need arises. In addition, it was not long ago when he played for the Philippine National Team, so the talent is really there.

Teams that might be interested for his services: Ginebra, Phoenix and NLEX.

2. Chris Ellis, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel

“Air Force” Ellis is very athletic and considered long for his height. His moniker comes from his aerial assaults on the rim that often results in nasty dunks and finishes. Even though Ellis is skillful around the around the rim, this particular strength of his does not fit the immediate needs of Barangay Ginebra.

The Gin Kings need a swingman who can make perimeter shots with consistency and preferably, also a dependable scorer. Chris Ellis is not a threat from the perimeter (27.1% and 57 made threes in his career) and he has not averaged more than 8 points per game. Ellis is an okay defender but he is not (yet) on the same level like Gabe Norwood, Chris Ross or Cliff Hodge.

Still, Ellis can help other teams who need athletic wings and someone who can guard smaller imports during the Governor’s Cup.

Teams that could use his services: Blackwater, GlobalPort and Phoenix.


3. Mark Cardona, NLEX Road Warriors

The guy known as “Captain Hook”, due to his assortment of running hook shots and floaters, was once a Best Player of the Conference (2007) and Finals MVP (2008-09). Cardona also has a few championship rings in his trophy case from the PBA and UAAP (2x champ).

For his career, Macmac averages 14.7 points and he has made 501 threes on 32.3% shooting. Cardona is still an above average scorer who can get his shot up at almost any time he wants. At 34, Cardona has somewhat slowed down but he can still provide some scoring punch (if healthy) when given the opportunity.

Nonetheless, Cardona has not played a lot for NLEX recently since the Road Warriors have made a conscious effort to go with younger guys like Alas and Lanete. But if he is traded to other teams which need instant offense and outside shooting, Cardona should be willing and able to deliver those numbers.

Teams that might be interested in him: TnT, Ginebra and Mahindra.

4. Alex Mallari, Star Hotshots

Mallari is a rangy and crafty player who can play PG, SG and even SF. Not a lot of PBA players can play multiple positions effectively but Mallari can, to a certain degree. Moreover, he is a versatile offensive player who can occasionally hit an outside shot and he has the ability to slash to the paint and finish creatively.

Defensively, his length and footwork can bother smaller players. However, Mallari struggles playing consistently and he sometimes displays erratic behavior on the court. He has not averaged more than 10 points in his career and his three-point shot needs work (26.1% in career threes). These things can be improved because he is only 29 and Mallari has shown improvement during his 4 years in the PBA.

For him to continue improving, Mallari needs minutes plus the trust and confidence of his coach. Unfortunately, Mallari just got back from injury and his opportunities to play have been limited. He is also playing for a new coach.

Teams that might be interested for his services: Ginebra, Alaska and Rain or Shine.

5. JVee Casio, Alaska Aces

Casio is currently on his 5th year in the PBA. His first 3 years were exceptional as he averaged about 12 points, 3 rebounds and more than 4.5 assists per game. On the other hand, his next 2 years were not as impressive as he also underwent some injuries.

Thus, his numbers suffered (8 points and less than 3 assists per game) and his recent struggles during the past Philippine Cup Finals might suggest that Casio has lost a step or two. So, the Aces addressed Casio’s poor play by giving more minutes and ball-handling duties to Chris Banchero, RJ Jazul and Ping Exciminiano.

It might appear that Alaska is headed towards a new direction or maybe they just want to rest Casio more. In any case, perhaps, a change of scenery (or system) is what Casio simply needs to regain his confidence and mojo.

He is just 29 and a former UAAP and PBA champion. Teams in need of a PG who can make threes and take care of the ball will be ready to snatch Casio if he is available.

Teams that might want him: Blackwater, NLEX and Mahindra. — By Rolly Mendoza