Alaska team governor Richard "Dickie" Bachmann reiterated Vic Manuel's value to the team amid a news report that the veteran forward wants out of the Aces, while also denying that they only offered him a one-year deal.
Responding to a news article that came out of spin.ph on Friday afternoon, Bachman explained they offered Manuel a two-year maximum deal.
The proposed new deal, though, includes a "performance clause", which if Manuel can comply with during the season-opening All-Filipino Cup that begins this April, then he automatically secures the second-year maximum deal.
"I met (player agent) Danny Espiritu (Manuel's representative) on the 26th of December and we discussed Vic and all the other players' (expiring contracts)," Bachmann confided to ESPN5 on Friday. "So for the contract of Vic, we offered him a max contract for two years, but his second year has a clause, based on (his) performance in the first conference, which is the All-Filipino this coming season."
Bachmann explained the performance clause was done in response to a previous incident involving Manuel, and then Alaska guard Ping Exciminiano. Both Alaska players participated in a "ligang labas" in late 2016. The unsanctioned game outside the PBA, which the two played in without the blessing of Alaska, forced the Aces management to slap Manuel and Exciminiano a one-game suspension each.
Still, the Alaska team executive reiterated that the performance clause was "easy to perform" and that once Manuel performs well, he'll automatically get the second year, maximum deal.
Bachmann also found it strange that Manuel had to express his feelings of disappointment to the media instead of simply communicating with him or Alaska coach Jeffrey Cariaso.
"So what Danny Espiritu is saying (about a) one-year contract is not true because he's (Manuel) our max player," stressed Bachmann. "The problem is no one told us that he wants to be traded."
The Alaska team governor in fact, emphasized Manuel's value to the organization.
"We still want him," Bachmann said, though he did mention that should Manuel insist on his desire to get traded, then they will try to work on a "win-win" deal for both parties. "If he really wants out, I can't force him to stay, but let's communicate and get a winning deal for him and the organization."
As it is, several PBA teams, according to Bachmann, have started inquiring on Manuel's status with the team, while some went to the extent of striking a potential trade deal.
Manuel, who averaged close to 16 points, six rebounds and over two assists per contest in the recent PBA bubble won by Barangay Ginebra, is currently unsigned after his two-year PBA contract expired last Dec. 31.
Meanwhile, as far as Cariaso is concerned, he is actually building the Aces around Manuel.
"He's very valuable to us because he's one of our veterans, one of our most reliable vets. He's the guy that should be because he's had a couple more years in his prime," shared Cariaso. "It's hard to get someone (like Manuel) at that level now."
Cariaso shared that the players Alaska acquired in recent conferences under his watch were actually part of their direction to surround Manuel with key talents.
"The team, we were building it around him because the goal since I took over was try to support him with better players, more complementary players," said Cariaso. "And that's what we're looking for, that's how we were approaching it so that in itself shows how valuable he is."
For the moment, Cariaso said he and Manuel spoke over the phone and will be meeting Friday night in an effort to hear his side and clear the air.
Espiritu, however, gave a different version of the issue.
The 74-year-old agent said Manuel resented the idea of not getting a fresh, multi-year deal when he requested management to begin negotiation as early as August last year.
"Vic's contract expired last August 31. So I talked with Dickie because Vic requested for his contract to be renewed," Espiritu told ESPN5 in Filipino.
"Dickie responded by saying, we will not renew him, we will only extend his contract till Dec. 31, to which Vic asked me, 'Boss, don't they (Alaska management) want me anymore? Why were they just offering me an extension?'" Espiritu recalled.
Espiritu added that the 33-year-old Manuel wondered if Alaska still valued his services considering the contributions he had for the franchise since he joined the Aces in 2014.
The long-time player agent said Manuel pushed him hard to get Alaska management to give him a fresh deal, but time and again, he failed to get one.
"They (Aces management) didn't want to give it (fresh multi-year deal) though Vic told me again and again to tell Alaska about his desire. And when he couldn't get the renewed deal, he felt really bad," he explained.
Espiritu said Manuel told him he was no marginal player in the pro league, and he simply wanted to feel Alaska values and appreciates his efforts for the franchise.
"Vic simply wanted to feel that Alaska wanted him. It's that simple. He was in effect saying, 'Why would he leave the team if he feels being valued and cared for?'" said Manuel's representative.
As far as the performance clause is concerned, Manuel relayed his response to Espiritu this way: "Boss, how many times have they told me that, but did they give an adjustment (on his contract)? No, they didn't, even though I wasn't performing that bad for the team. Just because we were losing doesn't mean I wasn't able to perform."