After Euroleague ouster, questions abound at Mac TA

Analysis: Maccabi Tel Aviv’s preparations for 2013/14 already began in earnest on Wednesday.

David Blatt 370 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
David Blatt 370
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
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.
Maccabi’s Euroleague 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 roster.
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.
Tel 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 another season.
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 manner.
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 offseason.
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 team.
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.