The insides of the trade proposal in EuroLeague explained

2024-01-12T15:55:46+00:00 2024-01-12T16:00:00+00:00.

Aris Barkas

12/Jan/24 15:55

EuroLeague Head Coaches Board executive director Goran Sasic explains how the trades may work in the EuroLeague, when and if approved, giving the players a voice on the deal and comparing to the example of the UEFA Champions League and not the NBA

By Eurohoops team/

Goran Sasic, Executive Director of the Euroleague Head Coaches Board, broke the news. Talking to Serbian media, he touched on the idea of implementing a trade system in Europe, particularly in the continent’s biggest competition Euroleague.

In his interview with Russian journalist Artem Komarov, Goran Sasic sheds some light on the possible trade system that could benefit everybody and also talks about changes that happened in the relations between coaches and clubs.

Clubs’ mindset about coaches needs to change

“Together with the ELPA and Euroleague, we have worked on something which is called the overdue payables mechanism. There is a Management Control Commission of the Euroleague that oversights the financial fair play regulation. If we flag an overdue payable, they are investigating it and opening up a proceeding against the clubs”, says Goran Sasic. “We also had cases with overdue payables mechanisms, which were resolved. So, nowadays in Euroleague Basketball, you very, very rarely have clubs that don’t pay on time anymore. I’m very happy they are fulfilling their obligations”, he concludes.

It is not only about overdue payable control but also about the governance protection of their labor laws. Euroleague and the Head Coaches Board have founded in Switzerland the Dispute Resolution Chamber, which is an in-house arbitration court. One case, that was Sasa Obradovic against Crvena Zvezda, has already been resolved.

EuroLeague Head Coaches Board (EHCB) Executive Director underlines that it’s the mindset of the clubs that needs to change. As an example, he gives Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson, asking where MU had been with Alex Fergusson in over two decades and where are they now with so many coaches changing after he left and playing the Champions League as a rare thing. But Sasic also has basketball examples.

“Think about where Efes was when Ergin Ataman came and where Efes was when he left. So I think that it’s a mindset that clubs need to understand. I understand a result-driven mindset. But we are operating in the most competitive league in the world. I’m sorry if you know another competitive league like the Euroleague currently, please tell me. Looking at the rank in the last few years, you have to understand that it’s such a thin blade, you know. And you must have the understanding that good things take time”, says Sasic.

Answering who might be an example in this, he has a list. And in this list, there is no room for surprise – Real and Laso, Panathinaikos / Fenerbahce and Obradovic, Zalgiris and Jasikevicius, CSKA and Itoudis. After them, there is also an example of Zenit and Xavi Pascual.

“Obradovic once said, it was not very easy being a Serb in the 1990s working abroad. Because of all the propaganda that was against Serbia, where we were demonized by the Western media. It was very difficult. And this is why the integrity and loyalty that Xavi showed towards Zenit is something outstanding. It shows that Xavi is a real sportsman. And on the other hand, Zenit matched this trust that Xavi had in them by giving him the complete freedom in bringing in a coaching staff of experts that he wanted”, he explains. “But if you ask me now which coach and which one person in the management matched their identities… For me, the examples is Andrey Vatutin and Dimitris Itoudis. I would say you could think like they are brothers of a different mother”.

Nobody will be traded without his consent

As for the most discussed topic of the week, which is implementing a trading system, Goran Sasic is optimistic. But he maintains that it’s still far away as the idea needs to be negotiated with ELPA and the Euroleague Management, and then needs to be presented to the Euroleague clubs who are the owners and they must approve it.

First and foremost Euroleague trades will have nothing or at least a little in common with the NBA. For example, Dylan Ennis posted on X that his fear is being traded in the middle of the season while his children have to switch not only countries but educational systems. As it turns out, contrary to the NBA, no one will be traded without his permission.

“It should be a full consent with club A and club B and the player. We respect our players. Our coaches, whenever they think about any rule implementations, always think first about how it affects their players. So the mindset here is that all the things that coaches are trying to do should be for the benefit of the players. I think that’s the essence. So in that case, I think from our perspective, I can say for sure that it should be a three-way consent. Players should be accepting any kind of club changes that they are doing. Nobody is going to impose anything on them”, Sasic assures.

He notes that, despite the absence of trades in bylaws, trades were always there. In particular, the EHCB chief recalls a deal between Panathinaikos and Unicaja when James Gist was a de-facto trade for Andy Panko. Sasic says that this players’ exchange was beneficial for all the parties included.

All players, and not only players, are welcome to discuss the idea

As Goran Sasic goes on, he reveals that the whole idea has not been thought through, and it is in its first stage of discussion. When it’s all said and done, the 13 clubs that own the organization have to vote, but the protocol includes a lot of steps before this.

“First, we will be working with EuroLeague and with ELPA on finding a mechanism. This doesn’t mean that it’s found. Neither does it mean that we have a mechanism that we’re thinking of. I’m a big fan of brainstorming. This means that I think that ELPA, EHCB, and Euroleague senior management should discuss it. ELPA, EHCB, and Euroleague management discuss things, make different simulations, and make different proposals. You bring it to the board of the Euroleague, meaning where the clubs are, the owners. Then the decision is made, of course, by the Euroleague clubs”, says the executive director of the Euroleague Head Coaches Board. “And they might come back to us and say, hey, yeah, but out of all the simulations and preparations that you made, can you also consider this and this and this? So it will have several back and forth. Until you come up with something that can be put in the bylaws”.

Sasic is sure that the idea of trades is important and, therefore, should be discussed not only by EHCB, ELPA, and shareholders. He also invites fans, media, TV rights holders, sponsors, and “everyone who has something smart to say and that will be in the benefit of the sport”.

Euroleague Basketball as an organization operates not only Euroleague but also the Eurocup. Asked about the possibility of building a trading system into another competition, Sasic admitted that the idea is to extend this to Eurocup, too.

“Once you implement a bylaw mechanism, it should be applied for both competitions, under the Euroleague ecosystem. That, again, is my opinion”, he says.

When will we see the trades working

Contrary to the previous reports, as of now there is no indication that trades will become something real very soon.

“We threw out an idea, and now this has become an interesting deal. And I don’t know when it will happen. I hope that it can happen next summer. But the decision is made by the Euroleague board. They will decide if it will happen and when it will happen. All I can say is that we as the Euroleague Head Coaches Board, will work on it.

So, again, this is just initial conceptual understanding, okay? What will come out of this, believe me, after you involve all the different stakeholders, the road might end up somewhere totally different. Somewhere completely different. I cannot tell you this, where it will end. All I’m saying is we should work on it. But in, in details, how everything will look like, I’m not Houdini. I cannot say what will happen in six months. All I say is that I’m a man of consensus. So everyone should sit down, brainstorm, everyone to come up with ideas and whatever is acceptable first for the players”.

Other ideas and where they come from

Goran Sasic also disclosed some other topics that he and EHCB are working on right now. For example, according to the current bylaws, during the same season, a player registered in the competition may only transfer to another Euroleague club during the period between Rounds 17 and Round 26 of the regular season. The EHCB wants to move the period and broaden it.

“As of now, the deadline for player registration has been the half-season, meaning game day 17. We want to remove this. We want to make it after game day 5. So that’s the concept. Remove the game day 17 player registration line”, Sasic says.

He also proposes that maybe the board should permit only one trade per season for a player so that nobody would switch three clubs and eventually play five times against some team.

Asked about possible problems with the trades – different taxation, legal system, etc. – Sasic assures he is aware of the issues that might come up. But is still optimistic and sees a role model – not the NBA, as you might think.

“In the NBA, it’s a whole another governance system. One country, one taxation, one legal system. Here we operate in 10 different countries, counting in also Russia. That’s why I don’t like these comparisons to the NBA. I like to look at the positive things they have, but when it comes to legal and taxation, it’s not doable. And for us better comparisons are with the Champions League”, he explains. “When I look at frameworks and bylaws statutes, protocols, tax systems, and so on, my first look is always at the Champions League before the NBA. Again, I look at the positive stuff of the NBA, but not only the NBA. I look at sports systems around the world. Believe me. I look at what’s happening in Indian cricket and in Scottish rugby. You can’t just look in one way, this would be the mistake that I think that the basketball fans are making. They always try to put us into the frame like we’re just looking and copying and pasting from the NBA. Sorry. That’s not the reality that I live in”, Sasic concludes.