Trade rumors are nothing new for Barangay Ginebra center Greg Slaughter, whose name once again floated around speculations in social media during the break.
At this point, he just chooses to pay them no mind.
"You can't really care. After being on this team for six years, going through championships to times where we were eliminated in the quarterfinals, I think I've heard it all from fans and haters alike. It's just the same old. Can't get distracted, can't get too high or low about it and keep your focus on the job," Slaughter said on Friday.
A reality check from former commissioner Chito Salud in 2013, along with historical instances of surprising transactions in the PBA and NBA, still reminds the big man that the league provides an ever-changing environment. This prompts him to stay ready for any move even if he shuts out the noise that the rumors often provide.
"That's just part of the business," he said. "I remember when I went to my rookie orientation, the commissioner then, Chito Salud, I remember one thing he told everyone in the room was, 'Everyone in here is gonna be traded at one point.' So you know, I've already been prepared for that, I understand the nature of the business.
"Being fan of the NBA you know what happens and even watching the PBA before we got in here. It happens. A lot of greats before me, like Eric Menk, Asi, Jimmy, they've never been on the same team. That's just part of the job, and you gotta always be prepared for whatever happens. "
The team, however, says it will continue to stand behind Slaughter as he seeks a strong finish to the season in the upcoming Governors' Cup.
"It's just strictly rumors. We have no intention [of trading him]. I dunno where they come from. People are just looking at it and making decisions on their own. We're not looking anywhere. I've seen some of the proposals, and they've been laughable," head coach Tim Cone said.
Cone also told his ward to stay away from the online rumors since Slaughter's importance to Ginebra is a definite sign that he's not going anywhere soon.
"I told Greg to stay off Twitter and not get on stuff also. He can't get caught up in that stuff. He knows me, he knows where he stands. He doesn't need to battle all the noise. That's one of the things as a professional that you have to do, you have to be able to ignore the noise, and all that stuff about him being traded is just noise," he added.
Slaughter seems to have taken those reminders to heart as he quickly went to work after Ginebra was eliminated in the Commissioner's Cup semifinals. It's been a productive buildup so far, with team conditioning coach Kirk Collier even posting some progress workouts online as the two took advantage of what has been an extended break.
"Usually between conferences, I like to put some extra work in with coach Kirk, our conditioning coach," Slaughter noted. "One thing I never realized was we really only got three weeks to work out but I never really had that amount of time to work out ever since I had my ACL injury.
"It's really the first time I've worked out with him [this long] before around 2015, and I had a really good year until unfortunately I got injured in that third conference. I'm just trying to get back there."
The additional time seems to be paying off immediately as he looked active and on point in Ginebra's first tune-up game of the break against the Magnolia Hotshots, which the Kings won 87-83. Slaughter scored eight of his 15 points in a fast-paced first quarter where they led by as many as 20 in a sizzling start.
"Greg was a force out there," observed Cone.
Slaughter attributed that showing to Cone, who encouraged the 31-year-old center to hunt for his shot when he gets his touches on offense.
"Just in practices recently he's encouraging me to be a little more aggressive, a little more looking for my shot. I'm gonna do that, and I've been trying to get in the best shape I can to do whatever the coaches ask me to the best of my abilities," he shared.
"I never questioned coach Tim. It's always been a dream of mine to be a player under him ever since before I got in the PBA. Whatever coach Tim asks me to do, I'll do it to the best of my abilities and I'll always have my trust in him," Slaughter added.
Even with a positive start heading into the season-ending tournament, Slaughter wants to keep building on his gains as he continues to put in the work to get to what he thinks is the best shape of his career.
"I think I still have a long way to go in order to be where I want to be, to make the impact I'm expecting of myself. I'm happy with the shape I'm in, but I know there's still a lot of work to do. I'm just listening to my coaches, we still have a lot of time to do that. I'm in no rush, I'm just taking every day in practice seriously and really just trying to soak up the knowledge from my coaches," he said.
"It's hard to say [how close I am to getting into the best shape that I can] because I would say I don't think I've been this in shape in my whole career. I still feel like I have a lot to go, a lot left in the tank. Sky's the limit, really. I feel good, and the more I'm into it, the more addictive it's becoming. It's a lot of fun, and let's see where it goes," he closed.