Euro's king is NBA bound
Last chance for Jasikevicius in the NBA
He's a great pick & roll player. He's a great shooter. He's a great passer and a true point guard. Sarunas Jasikevicius should be playing for an NBA team.
Oh, excuse me, I wrote this before, the exact date being August 21, 2004. Are we allowed to duplicate blogs in this section? I'll take that silence as a yes and just do it. Saras deserves the space.
Europe's king of basketball used to be Dejan Bodiroga from Serbia, now he has been replaced. Last week, Sarunas Jasikevicius won his third consecutive Euroleague title, after leading Israel's Maccabi Tel Aviv to wins over Panathinaikos and Tau Vitoria in the final four held in Moscow (aired live on NBA TV).
Don't underestimate the level of play in the Euroleague. NBA General Managers and Scouts pretty much know that this is the second best league in the world, better than the college game (and of course with much more experience). At least 10 players from the four teams attending have been drafted, have played or will play in the NBA. Jasikevicius won the MVP of the final game after taking over from the start and making the big plays when Maccabi most needed them. It's nothing new for him; he's done it a lot before, including to team USA in the Sydney and Athens Olympic games as Lithuania's point guard.
Cleveland can use him. One of his best friends is Zydrunas Ilgauskas, so if he re-signs, look for the Cavs to make a run at Jasikevicius. He's better than Jeff McInnis in making the others better, and he's a much better scorer than Eric Snow. The new owner, Dan Gilbert, has been asking about him. Believe me, if he was there, LeBron might still be playing. In the second round of the playoffs, that's how good he is. Put him with a good team, and he will make them great. I don't know what he will do with a rebuilding team, but with talent around him, he's excellent, especially in the big moments of the biggest games.
Indiana has shown interest - Larry Bird even came to Tel Aviv to meet him. The Pacers have two very good point guards in Tinsley and Anthony Johnson, but Tinsley has been hurt often, and with Reggie Miller retiring, they can use some more offense out of the backcourt.
He could be great for the Rockets, giving them another option to run the Pick & Roll with Yao besides T-Mac, and you can bet that Dirk Nowitzki's shooting percentages would have been better with a true playmaker running the fastbreaks. Put him in Memphis and they're better, and I could go on and on. To make it simple, those 3 Euroleague titles should be his last. It will be crazy if this guy doesn't get a two-year contract at around half of the midlevel exception per year.
We see him here every week. He is a killer, in a good way. His coach, Pini Gershon, called him an assassin and an assistant-coach on the court. Saras could be a little crazy with the officials during games, but he has calmed down a bit. He takes every call in every game personally, even if his team leads by 20 with a minute left. That's what makes him a winner. Maccabi had an easy Israeli league game this week, after winning the Euroleague, and he went after the other team right from the beginning. He even dunked on a fastbreak and went for a session of hugs & kisses with his high-flying friend, Anthony Parker who couldn't stop laughing on the bench.
Hey, NBA executives, it's about time. Better late than never. He's 29 and if you're still not sure, just pick up the phone to Maccabi's Power forward, Maceo Baston, who once played for the Raptors. He'll tell you who helped him become one of Europe's best big-men.