With former NBA star Dwight Howard signing for the Philippine-based team Strong Group for a Dubai tournament, is there a chance that other former stars will play in the PBA?
According to an article by SPIN, there is a possibility of Howard donning a local team’s jersey, particularly the Converge FiberXers. Team manager Jacob Lao, son of billionaire Frank Lao, confirmed that it is possible but will be difficult.
Apart from being the current import of Taoyuan Leopards in Taiwan’s T1 League, the PBA has imposed a height ceiling of 6’9 for imports. The eight-time NBA All-Star was listed as 6’10, though he can play in the Philippine league if he reverts to his original height of 6’9.
There was also the problem in terms of salary, with the PBA setting a maximum earnings for an import at $20,000 per month.
“That is also a problem, although it is easier since we can come up with ways in terms of salary; we can offer other packages for Dwight,” Lao explained in Tag-lish.
Besides the NBA’s Superman, Strong Group will be a powerhouse in the Dubai tournament. They recently signed Shabazz Muhammad, Andre’ Roberson, and Nick Young as their imports.
“We have more stars coming to the team. Just stay tuned. You will be surprised with the lineup we have. We want to elevate Philippine basketball, and we believe this is our small contribution to that cause,” Lao told SPIN with a smile.
It would also be nice to see Converge have some firepower, especially with how they are performing in this season’s Commissioner’s Cup.
So, to answer the question if it is possible, yes, this may be the start that former NBA stars grace the PBA.
Notable NBA Players that Played in the PBA
While we are pondering that we could see Howard in the PBA and other potential former stars, several NBA players have played in the Philippine pro league.
Chris Morris – Purefoods TJ Hotdogs (2002)
The former NBA veteran was drafted fourth overall by the New Jersey Nets in 1988 and briefly graced the PBA with the Purefoods TJ Hotdogs in 2002. Despite a short stint, Morris showcased his skills, averaging 20.6 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 3.0 assists.
Cedric Ceballos – San Miguel Beermen (2003)
A Slam Dunk Champion in the NBA, Cedric Ceballos made a one-game appearance for the San Miguel Beermen in the 2003 Reinforced Conference Finals. Despite the brevity, he contributed 11 points and 10 rebounds, helping secure an 86-81 victory.
Kevin Gamble – Añejo Rum (1987)
Kevin Gamble drafted 63rd overall by the Portland Trailblazers, found his way to the PBA with Añejo Rum. Despite a short stint, his scoring prowess left an impact, showcasing why he became a key contributor for the Boston Celtics in the 1990-91 season.
Vincent Askew – Shell Helix Oilers (1988)
After being drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers, Vincent Askew played for the Shell Helix Oilers in the 1988 PBA Open Conference. Unfortunately, the team failed to make the playoffs, but Askew’s journey continued in the NBA with various teams.
Leon Wood – Purefoods TJ Hotdogs (Career End)
Leon Wood, a former NBA player drafted 10th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in 1984, tried the international scene after his NBA career. He played for Purefoods TJ Hotdogs in the PBA before retiring and transitioning to a career in officiating.
Despite battling knee injuries, Henry Walker carved out a decent NBA career before entering the PBA with the Alaska Aces in 2014. He later played for the NLEX Road Warriors and Blackwater Elite, making significant contributions in each stint.
Al Thornton – NLEX Road Warriors (2015-2016), Mighty Sports (2016)
Drafted 14th overall by the Los Angeles Clippers, Al Thornton became an immediate contributor. After his NBA journey, he showcased his skills in the PBA with the NLEX Road Warriors, scoring an impressive 69 points in a game, and later joined Mighty Sports for the 2016 William Jones Cup.
As speculation surrounds Dwight Howard’s potential entry into the PBA, these past crossovers show that former NBA players, even though not stars, have already left their mark on Philippine basketball. Will Howard be the next to join this list? Only time will tell. Stay tuned for more surprises in the world of PBA and former NBA stars.
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