Maccabi Tel Aviv guard Sarunas Jasikevicius has signed a two-year deal with his former club Barcelona, according to a report to be published in the Russian daily Sport Express today.
Sport Express, quoting what it called reliable sources at Barcelona, said Jasikevicius would earn 2.5 million euros a season. The three-time Euroleague winner has an exit clause allowing him to leave for the NBA, Sport Express said.
A source at Maccabi Tel Aviv said yesterday, however, that Jasikevicius would not leave for another club in Europe and the player's agent also denied the report. "Jasikevicius will play in the NBA," said a source at Maccabi. "Even if there is a lock-out, he will wait till it is solved. He knows there are teams in the NBA that definitely want him."
Barcelona's move for its former player was initiated by club president Juan Laporte, who is determined to rebuild the team following its exit from the Spanish league playoff at the quarterfinal stage this season.
Spanish daily As reports that the terms of the deal between Jasikevicius and Barcelona were agreed in a meeting with Laporte when Maccabi played at Barcelona in the Euroleague last season. The reason for the player's decision to sign now is reportedly his concern that a lock-out in the NBA will prevent him from receiving a contract next season. Barcelona, for its part, freed up funds for the deal by releasing forward Dejan Bodiroga, who earned 1.5 million euros.
The decision to bring Jasikevicius back to Barcelona, where he won the Euroleague in 2003, before two consecutive titles with Maccabi, is part of the club's new vision promoted by general manager Zoran Savic and designated coach Dusko Ivanovic.
"They want to build a fast team that plays along the lines of Tau Vitoria or even Maccabi Tel Aviv," says As basketball columnist Luis Martinez.
Barcelona is also planning to release Roberto Duenas and wants to replace him with Valencia's Fabricio Oberto. "Barcelona is planning a revolution in its playing style," says Martinez. "Jasikevicius is the perfect player to lead that revolution."
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