Saras leaves NBA for Panathinaikos

Former Maccabi star will earn an estimated 7 million euros in two years, making him the highest paid basketball player in Europe.

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September 26, 2007 02:08
1 minute read.
sarunas jasikevicius 88 298

sarunas jasikevicius 88 . (photo credit: )

Former Maccabi Tel Aviv star Sarunas Jasikevicius ended months of speculation regarding his future on Tuesday, joining European champion Panathinaikos in the biggest signing of the year in European basketball. Jasikevicius, 31, will earn an estimated seven million euros in two years at the Greek giant, making him the highest paid basketball player in Europe. "We didn't mind spend this amount. It wasn't even a consideration," Panathinaikos president Pavlos Giannakopoulos said. "I said in the past that Panathinaikos can sign any player it wants because money's no object. This deal is similar to the one that brought Dominick Wilkins here 12 years ago. The players are of a similar level." Jasikevicius, who led Lithuania to the bronze medal at the EuroBasket tournament a couple of weeks ago, is among a handful of players to have won three consecutive European club championships. In 2003 he guided Barcelona to the Euroleague title before helping Maccabi Tel Aviv to back-to-back titles in 2004 and 2005. Jasikevicius left Maccabi to join the NBA's Indiana Pacers, but failed to play a substantial role in the team and was traded to the Golden State Warriors last January. Last week the Warriors waived Jasikevicius, agreeing to a contract buyout with the disgruntled guard. Jasikevicius joined the Warriors along with Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington in an eight-player trade with Indiana, but the Lithuanian point guard never cracked coach Don Nelson's rotation. He averaged 4.3 points and 2.3 assists for Golden State during the regular season, but played sparingly during the final six weeks. Jasikevicius then played only seven total minutes during the Warriors' run to the second round of the playoffs. "We think this was in the best interest of both parties," said Chris Mullin, the Warriors' top personnel executive. "As a competitor, Sarunas obviously would like to have an opportunity to play a significant role on a team." "This could potentially open up other avenues that will allow him to pursue that opportunity." AP contributed to this report


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