The hapless NLEX Road Warriors, who have long desired to improve their roster, finally pulled off a significant trade, landing Alex Mallari from the Mahindra Floodbuster in a four-player trade announced on Friday.
NLEX also received reserve player Kenneth Ighalo and Mahindra’s 2020 second-round pick.
In exchange, Mahindra received Glenn Khobuntin and Eric Camson from NLEX.
The Road Warriors made the deal in the middle of their disappointing first season under coach Yeng Guiao. NLEX remains winless after eight games in the Commissioner’s Cup, and is unlikely to move on to the playoffs for the second straight tournament.
It remains to be seen how Mallari will fit in Guiao’s run-and-gun, equal-opportunity-for-all system. He’s currently having a fine season as one of Mahindra’s top playmakers, averaging 12 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists in seven games in the Commissioner’s Cup.
But at NLEX, he has to share ball-handling duties with Kevin Alas and Carlo Lastimosa who are most comfortable with the ball in their hands. Although don’t be surprised if they get shipped, as the team declared in the past that no one on its lineup is safe from being traded.
For Mahindra’s part, letting go of Mallari, arguably its best player, and a future draft pick, which is supposedly a highly valued asset, in exchange for role players is a head-scratcher. But then again, this isn’t the first time that the Floodbuster engaged in an unbalanced trade.
The silver lining for Mahindra is that it got young bruisers in Khobuntin and Camson who can affect a game, although they ar efar from being franchise players.
The trade will also allow LA Revilla to be the team’s leader once again after his play was stunted by Mallari’s arrival last year.