Simone Pianigiani

Pianigiani: That’s one million…

The whispers from the Fenerbahçe Ülker fan base have become mutterings which have become grousing over the course of a season which their team entered as favorites to take the whole enchilada: The head of Simone Pianigiani’s head is being called for. Fortunately (for the coach), two glaring obstacles stand in the way.

Firstly comes the question of — believe it or not — economics. Beyond a handful of big deals given to players in the off-season, Pianigiani was given a contract of two years plus a third-year option. Showing the Italian the door right now would cost the Turkish team $4 million. While the contract does account for payment by installment, Fenerbahçe would still have to immediately pony up $1 million — and what European club has that kind of money lying around in 2013?

The second X-factor is, well, who would replace him? On Saturday, Spain-based Jordan y Pippen reported that Fenerbahçe officials were utterly willing to part ways with Pianigiani after the team’s embarrassing 97-75 loss to Caja Laboral Baskonia and that Zeljko Obradovic was the first choice for replacement.

However, yesterday, Eurohoops reported that at least three candidates for the head coach spot have turned down Fenerbahçe’s current offer — and as for Obradovic, nothing doing, apparently.

And so, like it or not, it seems that Pianigiani is there to stay — perhaps until, say, February 21. That’s when FC Barcelona comes to Istanbul for game eight of the Euroleague Top 16 round with the possible intention to all-but-mathematically eliminate the once-daunting Fenerbahçe…

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