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„Money in basketball is a lot, but not everything“

08.10.2017 || 17:06 Uhr von:
In our big interview Daniele Baiesi talks about his relationship to Marko Pesic, his scouting secrets and the conflict between FIBA and Euroleague. Mister Baiesi, a long preseason is over. What is your impression of the new FC Bayern Basketball team?

Daniele Baiesi: First of all it is important to come together as a group of people during preseason. Many different individuals have to get to know and get used to each other. From a basketball point of view it is even more interesting for me because a lot of new players come together.

Some players who were already here last season, I see as new players as well. In my opinion they arrived with new motivation. For example Maik Zirbes: Last season he was restrained by a foot-injury, but now he’s healthy again and seems to be another player.

These are my first impressions of Bayern Munich, when I compare it to last year. But obviously, last season I only was an outsider.

You mentioned the importance of coming together as a group. How difficult is it, when a major part of the team plays the Eurobasket and arrives only one week before the season starts?

Of course this is not optimal. We missed both Power Forwards (Milan Macvan and Danilo Barthel,  editor’s note) and the likely Starting Point Guard (Stefan Jovic). These two positions are the backbone of a team.

Accordingly, I had many questions in the beginning, because I always think about how these players fit into the team structure. So, during the preparation, every day and every week is very interesting, because you can never foresee what will happen.

“Last season I watched about 50 games of Bayern.”

You mentioned your role as an „outsider“ in the past season. What are the differences when you compare your impressions from last year with the current ones?

This question is very difficult to answer. Last season I watched about 50 games of Bayern. I had to think about how to beat this team. Today, my perspective is a completely different one. I have to see that we are forming a team that is competitive against every opponent.

Can you describe your role at FC Bayern?

The term role is clearly defined for me. I am now working with people with whom I’ve  rarely spoken to so far. For example, I had never spoken to Marko Pesic about details before we started working together. We were competitors.

Now our relationship has changed. We pursue the same goal and work together excellently, exchange a lot of ideas. However, we can only draw a final conclusion at the end of the season when we see where we will be.

Do you share an office with Marko Pesic?

He shares his office with me (laughs). We talk very, very much to each other and discuss intensively. Just think of a  Star Wars flick, when Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader fight with lightsabers.

„It is not enough to have the best knowledge about basketball.“

You consider the forming of a team as very important. How do you decide whether a team still needs a player or not?

It is always hard to tell if there is a part missing in the puzzle. I always try to see the whole thing and improve the team. This can be done by adding, but also by removing a puzzle piece.

The situation and the processes within a team must always be observed. Nevertheless you keep an eye on the players market. There are always ways to improve.

When you are scouting a player,what do you particularly pay attention to in order to land a steal in the best case?

Scouting is a very complex process, and not only things that are written in a scouting report count. What a player can do and what he can not do are objective criteria. In this regard, you often need a bit of luck.

It is hard to describe what really matters. I always try to answer the following question for myself: How would the player perform if he were here to practice with my team tomorrow morning? This question concerns the basketball aspect.

On the other hand, it is about getting a picture as comprehensive as possible of the player as a human being. In the end, it is the same with coaches. In 2017 it is not enough to have the best knowledge about basketball. You must be able to deal and communicate with your players.

From the players’ side it is not enough, if you have the best skills. I often like to draw a mantra of the All-Blacks: every talented player can help a team, but not everyone will do so.

It is about how a player interacts with his teammates and their environment.

How do you collect this information about a player?

In the end there are two points. The first: Do not always tell everything you know. This is precisely why I can not speak about the second point (laughs). No, I’ve been working in basketball for over 16 years and know that networking is very, very important nowadays.

I assume that I am not necessarily the best friend of the people I talk to. But that is not the point. No matter who you speak to, you get new information. Perhaps it is just a matter of throwing a second glance at a thing or a different angle of view.

„If you have the most money, you do not go to the cheapest restaurant.“

Does the competition, in which a team participates, influence the position in the negotiations with a player?

Definitely. If you have the most money, you do not go to the cheapest restaurant. Nowadays money in the basketball is a lot, but not everything. Players want competition, they want to measure themselves at the highest level.

Take Shane Larkin as an example. He has declined an offer about 2.5 million dollars net in Europe to sign a minimum contract in the NBA. He was one of the best point guards in Euroleague last season and is now taking the risk of being cut in the NBA.

Of course, there are other examples, such as Brian Roberts, who has now signed with Olympiacos, a title candidate in the Euroleague. If he had received an equivalent offer from an Eurocup team, he would still have gone to the Euroleague. Simply for the reason to compete with the best of Europe.

Basically I try to explain to players: If you perform on a lower level, you can recommend yourself for a higher level. If you play well in the Eurocup, you will receive offers from the Euroleague. If you can prove yourself there, maybe the door to the NBA will open.

But there are also other examples. Aaron Jackson has left the Euroleague to sign a highly doped contract in China.

Jackson was perhaps not quite satisfied with his situation in Europe. He has also expressed his opinion via social media. Perhaps his age also played a role. He is 31 and can make a lot of money again. If he is satisfied with his decision, it is probably the best for all parties involved.

However, the argument you mentioned is helpful to convince players to compete in the Eurocup.

It is not an argument. I ask players what they want. Why should he want to come to Munich, for example? If a player tells me that he wants to make as much money as possible, he should rather stay away. For this he has to sign in China or somewhere else.

The player must understand that we are not in the highest European league. We are not playing for the title in the Euroleague. Likewise, we can not compete with the salaries paid in China.

A player must be willing to trust us. He must understand that here he has perhaps the best ways to achieve his goals. All these factors need to be clarified in discussions. The principle ‘you come to us, we pay you and you deliver’ does not exist for a long time. Communication is incredibly important in today’s society.

In conclusion, the goal must always be that both sides involved in a deal benefit of it. The club, if the player plays well and the player, if he can recommend himself by his good performances for higher tasks.

“Most FIBA and Euroleague officials have never led a professional club”

Players can now earn significantly more money in the G-League than before. Is this noticeable to you?

Absolutely. Especially this summer, there have been many players who have had very lucrative offers from Euroleague clubs. But they decided to sign a two-way contract in the NBA. I do not know if the changes in the D-League are beneficial to basketball, but they will have a significant impact on the market. We have to learn how to deal with this and find solutions.

How do you see the dispute between Euroleague and FIBA?

I really do not want to go into this discussion. The whole issue is a political one in which I do not want to participate. What I am about to say is true not just for for basketball, but for many political issues around the world.

Those who set the rules usually did not have to deal with it. Most officialss have never led a professional club, they have never dealt with the problems of clubs and players. Some have not even played basketball themselves.

I  have a fundamental problem, when people decide about things they have little idea about. I do not want to attack anyone personally.

I will give you an example that has nothing to do with the dispute between Euroleague and FIBA. The travelling-rule will be changed in the coming season. The new rules are valid as of 1st October 2017. We will play the first BBL match on September 30th. What should I tell our players before the game? What rules apply now?

How can it be that nobody seems to have thought about it? It’s crazy, but I try to act at the best for my organization within the given limits.

The national team competition time slot during the season is a given limit.

This is another political issue. A club can not say that he will not send his players to the national team. Ultimately, the players are the ones who suffer, because they can be punished according to how they decide.

It is not yet possible to draw a clear position on the national games in November. This matter will still need to be discussed at a sports policy level. We will see what ultimately happens in November.

Thanks for the detailed discussion.

„Money in basketball is a lot, but not everything“
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