There may still be almost two months of BSL action to be played before the
basketball season officially ends, but Maccabi Tel Aviv’s preparations for
2013/14 already began in earnest on Wednesday.
campaign came to a close on Tuesday night following the 69-57 defeat to Real
Madrid, with the Spaniards completing a 3-0 sweep in the quarterfinals with a
third straight double-digit victory.
After beginning the Top 16 with five
defeats in its first seven games, it seemed all but inevitable that Tel Aviv
would fail to qualify for the last eight.
However, six straight wins saw
the yellow- and-blue advance to the quarterfinals, only to be thoroughly
outplayed by Madrid.
Coach David Blatt insisted that the team’s progress
to the quarters should in itself be regarded as a success, claiming that it was
impossible to achieve much more with the limited talent on this season’s
Blatt will be back as Maccabi coach next season and he plans to
overhaul the squad once more.
Despite an extremely poor series against
Real, Devin Smith, who averaged just 4.7 points in the playoffs after scoring
13.5 points per game in the Top 16, is set to re-sign with Maccabi.
Aviv also plans to keep muchimproved center Shawn James, with Israelis Yogev
Ohayon, Guy Pnini and Sylven Landesberg all expected to remain with the side for
David Logan, Nik Caner-Medley, Darko Planinic and Moran
Roth will likely all have to find a new team, with big question marks hanging
over the heads of Lior Eliyahu and Ricky Hickman.
In a perfect world,
Maccabi would like to retain the services of both players, but some decision
makers at the club believe that their hefty salaries can be spent in a better
Eliyahu’s salary is set to reach a cost of around $2 million next
season, and considering he scored a total of four points in the quarterfinals,
while averaging a mere 6.3 points in the Top 16, Maccabi may well decide to take
advantage of a clause in his contract and cut him in the
Hickman, on the other hand, was Tel Aviv’s top scorer in the
Euroleague this season (13.5 PPG), but Maccabi’s decision regarding his fate
will be determined by the identity of the new players signed by the
The likes of former players, Richard Hendrix, who was at Nokia
Arena on Tuesday, Keith Langford, Yotam Halperin and Sarunas Jasikevicius are
all being mentioned in connection with a return to Maccabi, but the only
certainty at the moment seems to be that there will be no end to the speculation
until the start of next season.