It was just five months ago, when Phoenix Super LPG lost Chris Banchero for nothing.
Banchero, a draft pick in the Philippine Basketball Association back in 2014, was part of the first-ever batch in league history that became unrestricted free agents.
And on just the second day of his free agency, the 6-foot-1 floor general bolted out of the Fuel Masters camp, signing with Meralco.
When the clock strikes midnight on September 1, Phoenix Super LPG might lose another marquee player in Matthew Wright. And again, the Fuel Masters won’t get anything in return.
But it’s not for the lack of trying.
Since late last year, Phoenix Super LPG had been trying to find a trade partner for Wright, according to team insiders.
The contract negotiations between Wright’s camp and Phoenix Super LPG had been at a standstill for the past seven months.
The Fuel Masters’ offer stood at around $14,000 per month (around P800,000 including perks).
Wright’s camp wanted a little bump.
Wright had made it known that despite great interest from B.League teams, he does not want to leave home.
The Fil-Canadian product of St. Bonaventure previously played for French club Quimper from 2014-15 before moving to Malaysia to play with Westports a season later.
The six years he spent with Phoenix was the longest he has ever been with a team, let alone one country. Moreover, he already invested in a home and various business ventures in the Philippines.
Therefore, when Wright asked for a little raise in his contract offer, he was not demanding for B.League money — all he was asking for was something a little bit closer to what he can net in Japan.
For professional players transferring to the B.League (i.e. Kiefer Ravena, Bobby Ray Parks Jr., Greg Slaughter, and Jordan Heading), starting offers begin at $25,000 per month. Added perks include lodging, transportation, win bonuses, and if married, visas for his partner and children.
However, up to this day, both camps are still at an impasse.
From March to July 8, Phoenix had been dangling Wright to the rest of the 11 member teams of the league.
Nevertheless, Wright moving to the B.League had been a foregone conclusion among the league circles. They knew that if they got the 6-foot-4 winger, it would only be on borrowed time.
“Walang may gustong kumuha kasi alam naman na aalis at aalis din siya,” said a rival team official, who requested anonymity.
And on July 16, Wright played his final game in Phoenix. Barring any miracle transactions, he also played his final game in the PBA.
Well, until he decides to come back home.
If Wright decides to play overseas, Phoenix will have his domestic rights from September 2022 to September 2024.
If Wright does not return in two years, he will have to sit out an additional three years before getting to return to the PBA.
Wright will be 36 years old by then.
For Phoenix, it’s déjà vu as it lost another star player for nothing in return.