Panathinaikos: Carbon-copy or end of an era?

Well the second option seems to be becoming more distant as Head Coach Zeljko Obradovic, renewed for another 2 years. It used to take the two sides (Obradovic and club management) no more than 10 minutes to agree and renew their collaboration, but this year it took close to three hours. Why?

As reported Obradovic wanted to convince the club’s management to keep all key players. Of course as he stated later on that does not solely depend on the management, but on the players as well. In any case, they agreed and Obradovic will have pent 13 whole years on the green bench after his new contract comes to an end in summer of 2012. For the history the Serb coach will be earning around 1.7 million euros per season.

Panathinaikos holds an option for Saras. If they don’t release him until the 20th of June, he’s a Pana player for next season also despite all the rumours that have surfaced about him having agreed with Maccabi Tel Aviv. And as reported by Greek media he wants to stay in Athens and Obradovic wants to keep him. The only thing that could break the deal would be his salary as he is willing to takes a wage cut (he currently earns 1.5 million euros) but won’t go below the 1 million red line while the club is looking to make a budget cut.

A lot has been said about Spanoulis. Lietuvos Rytas GM Vainauskas said that the Greek guard will join arch-rivals Oly if the club from Piraeus agrees with Dusan Ivkovic, yet the reported salary cannot be taken seriously (3 seasons, 12 millions), first of all due to the Greek financial crisis and the tax raise for players to 45%.

Real Madrid has also reportedly shown interest, offering about 3 millions and projected by many to be the club’s primary target. After Obradovic’ renewal however, what seemed to be a done deal (Spanoulis’ departure) is not such a safe bet these days, on the contrary, Panathinaikos could announce Spanoulis’ contract renewal in a few days.

Moving on to another major subject that has raised quite some attention of international media: Will Pekovic stay or will he join the Timberwolves in the NBA? Minnesota Timberwolves’ GM David Kahn stated in a recent interview after his trip to Europe, that Pekovic is both ready and eager to join the franchise. The contract that was reported is a little more than 3mil dollars for 3 seasons, this about 1mil per season. And here is the tricky part: if Pekovic stays with Pana for another season he will be getting 1.7 million euros net! And not only that, but for the additional two years of the Minnesota offered contract he would probably get even more than that in Europe. The conclusion is that if Pekovic would stay in Europe for the next three seasons instead of going to the NBA, he would be earning about double as much per season. And that is a thinker. In the past few days another option became available for the Montenegrin giant as Houston Rockets wants to get him with an trade with Timberwolves.

A couple of weeks ago a rumoured surfaced from Greek media and was reproduced first by French and then international media that Pana has already agreed terms with a top name from the NBA. Names soon were placed on the table. Greek passport holder Peja Stojakovic was the most likely to happen one, but he still has one year left on his contract and would you give up 15mil dollars easily? Tough case. Or better yet, impossible as he denied a move to Greece some days ago.

Of course restricted-free agent Dirk Nowitzki was another name, but let’s face it: the guy is looking at 23mil dollars next season, possibly even getting a multi-year deal. This one is even more far-fetched or better yet wishful thinking of some Green fans.

Andrei Kirilenko could also be an option. He still has one year left on his contract, but upon completion he probably cannot expect such a generous contract to stay in the NBA. A multi-year deal with about 4 millions per season in Europe could cover his financial demands. He has repeatedly stated that he would like to come back to Europe. But as of recently with the Nets becoming a Russian exclave in the States, a possible move to New Jersey sounds more logical.

What sounds more logical is Rasho Nesterovic who also holds a Greek passport. His prime is gone, but he still has 1-2 high-quality seasons to offer for acceptable money as he has stated that money is not an issue and that he wants to return to Europe. But he has also stated that he likes Toronto. In any case if Pekovic goes, Rasho could be targeted by Pana, but not without competition by Greek rivals Olympiacos who are also seeing their frontline wearing thin and Rasho’s Greek passport looks very sweet.

Could it be Rudy Fernandez? He is reported to be the primary target by both Real Madrid and Pana, but he also reported to have said that he’s staying put in the NBA. It would make sense for him to return to Europe though and for Pana to approach him as they are also looking for a top SF.

Is there any truth at all in the NBA-superstar rumour? We don’t know, but it was interesting analysing it anyway…

Another very probable target for Pana should be Siena’s Sato who’s a free agent as of this summer. He had an excellent season, he is an Obradovic type player with his hard defence and he’s a small forward. This is the player that Pana will most likely go after this summer.

If Pekovic leaves and regardless if Rasho joins, the club is also laying eyes on Partizan’s Aleks Maric, one of the best options of this year’s transfer market at the Center position.

Another rumour that had surfaced last week said that Bouroussis and Vassilopoulos of Oly will join Panathinakos. It is however very hard to believe due to the bad blood between the players (especially Bouroussis) and the green fans and because here is said to be an under-the-table agreement between the two clubs not to go for each other’s players.

In general it is assumed that all key players with ending contracts will continue including Spanoulis, Nicholas, Batiste, Saras and of course captain Diamantides and that the team will add a high-calibre SF and another C.

You can see Pana’s contract situation here

Editor’s note on June 14: Panathinaikos announced the contract extension of captain Diamantidis and same is expected for Spanoulis in the days to follow.