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14.07.2007 12:47

Zoran Savic: "We will have a competitive team"


Having returned from a scouting trip to the United States, the AXA FC Barcelona technical secretary, Zoran Savic, analyzed the Blaugrana's basketball squad for the coming season for www.fcbarcelona.cat.

How was your trip to the United States?

"I had the chance to see a lot of players in action and talked to many agents. I saw four games a day and watching players live helps see details that you may not appreciate on a dvd. I have brought back reports on several players that could be interesting for the future."

What positions do you want to strengthen in the team?

"We are looking for a point guard, a forward and an out-and-out attacker. Of course, if we see the opportunity to sign an interesting player in a different position then we could do that too, but those are our priorities for now."

How have your plans changed after Juan Carlos Navarro announced that he was going to move to the NBA?

BF1F0101.jpg"At the end of the season we did not want to make many new additions because we had a solid team and it only needed a slight improvement. When Juan Carlos told us that he was interested in going to the NBA it changed our initial plans a little and now we will have to find a new player for his position."

Do you understand why Navarro wants to go to the NBA?

"Obviously I understand. He wants to measure himself against the best players in the world and they are over there. People have to take up challenges in life and maybe for him he no longer had any left in Europe and felt it would be a good experience to go to the United States. Juan Carlos is a great person and deserves his chance. I have been in the dressing room with him and he is a strong character. I wish him all the best."

He had a €10m clause to go to the NBA. What has happened about that?

"When he renewed his contract in 2005 he signed the €10m clause. A few days after the end of the season he came to talk to us and the club understood that after 15 years of playing here and giving everything to Barça that we could help him by allowing him to pursue his dream and not to limit his options. It was decided that to help him he could pay the clause as and when he wanted as long as the club received the money. There are still a few things remaining to be tied up, but the agreement is a good thing for both parties and if things do not go as well as he would like in the United States, then Barça would welcome him back with open arms. FC Barcelona has reserved the right to have first option when he returns to Europe, just like we did with Pau Gasol some years ago.

Anyway, signing Juan Carlos will not be easy for the NBA teams. At the moment he does not have a contract over there and we would be delighted if he stayed here at Barça. He is one of the best players in Europe and if he ended up not being able to play in the NBA, then he would have a place back here."

What can be done to prevent players leaving for the NBA?

Imagen_3.JPG"The truth is not a lot. They want to try the experience and it is difficult to stop them. It is also very hard for a club to keep a player that does ont want to stay. The level of European basketball is becoming closer to the NBA all the time and you will see that there are more and more international players over there now."

Is that why Rudy has not come to Barça?

"Yes partly. Rudy did not want to give up the chance to try his luck over there and we did not want to invest a lot of money in a player that could invoke a clause in a year's time. If we signed him then we would want assurances that he would play for us for many years. Besides, la Penya did not want to let him to join us easily and have made things a lot easier for him to be able to go to the NBA in the future."

What happened with Marc Gasol to make him want to stay with Akasvayu Girona?

Marconato.JPG"Last season we signed Fran Vázquez and Girona wanted to include Marc in the deal. That allowed us to lower his buy-out clause to less than half of what they were asking for in the first place. The agreement was to loan Marc out for two seasons. When the last campaign finished we talked to Marc to tell him that we wanted him to come back next year. But after weighing things up we felt that marc would have more opportunities with Girona and that it would be best if he stayed there."

Will Jordi Trías' contract be renewed?

FINAL_PLAYOFF_PRIMER_PARTIDO_1.JPG"Our intention is to renew his contract and he wants to stay at Barça. He has improved a lot this year and was the MVP in the Copa del Rey as well as being a key member of our team. He is also a magnificent person who contributes a lot to the dressing room with his humour. We are working out a package for Jordi to stay with us for the next few seasons and are ready to offer him a vastly improved deal. We hope that he will see the effort the club is making and that in the next few days we will reach a satisfactory agreement."

And Michalis Kakiouzis?

"With Michalis it is a bit different. We are looking at who we can sign and then we will decide what to do. Kakiouzis is a great player and has shown that throughout his three years with Barça."

Do you think that next season the club will have a competitive team?

"I have no doubt about that. To sign lots of players and say that is it before the start of July does not mean that you are going to be more successful. Success will come with hard work in training every day and then in the games. We still have time to bring in good players and I am sure that next season Barcelona will have a very competitive team who will entertain the fans and will be able to win trophies."

Zoran Savic: “We will have a competitive team“
How are the preparations for the season going?
"There is a lot of movement i the market at the moment and we do not want to miss out. We want to pay the right price and bring in the players that we need and not be rushed. We have until October to sign new players. We have a plan and we are taking things step-by-step. We talk constantly with Dusko to see what the best options are and to see which players would adapt to our style of play the best.

"We are not stopping and are spending a lot of time preparing for next season. Last week we renewed Roger Grimau's contract for another year. He is a great player who adds something in each game. He is capable of changing the rhythm of play and giving each game a new intensity.

"We also allowed Rodrigo De la Fuente to leave. It was a hard decision to make because he has been here ten years and was the captain of the team and a favourite with the fans. The day that he comes back he deserves to be shown great recognition by the Palau for all his years of dedication, effort and sacrifice that he gave this team."

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