Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Aris Reloaded.. and what of Blatt?

Another bad season came to an end for Aris and many changes are imminent..

As expected Aris lost to Olympiakos in the first round of the play-offs and hence the season ended for both players and coaching staff. It was a season that started got off on the wrong foot with many bad decisions, first and foremost to retain coach Mazzon at his position. The team was met with the task of playing in the qualifying rounds of the Euroleague against Maroussi. A task that ended in tears..

The team that was assembled and prepared by coach Mazzon and president Damianidis was pitiful. The unexpected sell of Kostas Papanikolaou to Olympiakos for an undisclosed amount, did occur in order to cover the existing contracts(Hatzivrettas, Dikoudis, Kakiouzis), that were actually used as a smoke screen for the fans of the team. The well prepared team of Maroussi crushed Aris and it was Eurocup from then on. The much delayed replacement of coach Mazzon did take place only to be replaced by someone with less redeeming qualities. Coach Katsikaris came to replace Mazzon and brought about a constant change of debatable player changes only to flee the sinking ship himself. He said he couldn't cope with the pressure and also quoted reasons he can't disclose to the public(obviously..).

One might say it was beneficial to Aris, as during the trade-off, Aris got David Blatt as their coach. The ACB has a rule that doesn't allow coaches of National Teams to work there, so David Blatt(NT of Russia) got Aris and Katsikaris got Bilbao. Their mutual agent helped to facilitate the switch. But even David Blatt couldn't fix Aris and the team finished 7th in the final ranking of the Greek League and will possibly fight their way to the Eurocup qualifiers next season.

So what of the next day.. at the moment there are only a few valid contracts for next season. Hatzivrettas and Dikoudis have one more season in their contract but if Blatt stays then the general consensus is that they will be asked to leave the team. Kakiouzis doesn't have a contract for next season, nor do Aaron Miles or Jeremy Richardson. Aaron Miles will head back to the States to fix his ailing knee whereas Richardson might possibly pursue an NBA contract. A radio report from Thessaloniki yesterday mentioned that he is asking a significant amount of money to sign another contract so it's not likely to happen but you never know.. Nikos Barlos and Andrew Betts are also without a contract and its only the youngsters of the team who have a guaranteed contract. Michalis Tsairelis and Quinton Day will also be returning from the teams that they were sent on-loan but its unknown if they will see any playing time. Ivan Paunic and Matt Walsh only have a contract until the end of the season. And of course Keydren Clark(1.78-PG).. he has another season in his contract but it's possible that he will be sold to another team if Blatt stays.

The main thing in Aris though is the administration side of things. It is rumored that current president Ioannis Damianidis will be the main candidate for the Chairman position of the Greek League. If that comes to pass then there will be people returning to Aris that don't get along with Damianidis, people from the original Genesis Ltd company that took over in 2003. And there is also the newly formed Sarisa Ltd company that consists of businessmen that intend to become the major shareholders of the club one day, much like Genesis when they were originally formed.

David Blatt said that if his demands are met by the new administration then he will stay with Aris. On the other hand, by the end of the all the leagues' play-offs there might be a few more open head coach positions. They can be in teams with a far bigger wallet than Aris so it remains to be seen. At the moment the new administration is expected to form in Aris and when that happens things will begin to take shape.

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