Any team wanting to sign Maccabi Tel Aviv's Lithuanian point guard Sarunas Jasikevicius will have to pay big time, the player's agent said yesterday. "We are going to ask for $10 million for a three-year contract. Sarunas is in his prime and now is the perfect time to sign him," Jasikevicius' American agent Doug Neustadt said yesterday.
Approximately 10 NBA teams are said to be interested in retaining Jasikevicius' services, and Neustadt will start the negotiations on July 1. The Indiana Pacers, Boston Celtics and Portland Trail Blazers are among the teams reportedly in the hunt for the Maccabi player.
"Money is an important factor for Sarunas, but there are other factors as well, such as the quality of the team, the amount of court time he will get and the coach," Neustadt said. "Teams don't usually promise players how many minutes they will play, but obviously big money goes hand in hand with court time."
Neustadt added that it was very important to Jasikevicius to sign with a team where he has an opportunity to be a clutch player. "Being a starter is less critical, as today you can be sixth on the roster and play 30 minutes," Neustadt said.
The agent said he was very optimistic about Jasikevicius's chances of succeeding in the NBA. "I saw him play five times in the Euroleague this season, and no one can persuade me that there is a better free-agent guard around. He has already won everything there is to win in Europe, and that makes the NBA a new challenge for him. I can promise you that he will have a lot of options, but he is the one who holds the cards and he will be the one who has to pull the trigger.
Maccabi Tel Aviv has already accepted that it will be parting with its star player and second assistant coach Dan Shamir left for the United States yesterday to begin looking for a replacement.
Meanwhile, the club signed a new two-year contract with center Maceo Baston yesterday.