Panathinaikos Owner Fulfills Dream By Signing Jimmer Fredette
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Jimmer Fredette’s early departure from the Golden State Warriors Summer League team last week was for good reason. The former BYU star and Wooden Award winner had multiple offers to play overseas.
On Tuesday, Fredette agreed to terms with one those lucrative offers from Panathinaikos, a EuroLeague powerhouse in Greece.
Panathinaikos has been a franchise that has been pursuing Jimmer for a long time.
George Zakkas, a basketball insider in Greece for SDNA.gr hopped on the Cougar Tracks podcast to discuss Jimmer’s signing with Panathinaikos.
“Panathinaikos and Jimmer Fredette have agreed to terms in principle to a two-year deal,” said Zakkas. “That means that the 30-year-old sharp-shooter will come in the EuroLeague for the first time in his career. That also means Panathinaikos will fulfill a dream of their owner, Mr. Dimitrios Giannakopoulos, who was targeting Fredette since 2014. It has been a five-year run after Fredette.”
Dimitrios took over as Panathinaikos’ owner in 2012 after his father Pavlos.
For nearly that entire stretch of time that Dimitrios has been “The Greens” owner, he’s been after Jimmer. This move by Dimitrios probably makes his late father proud. Pavlos Giannakopoulos once landed NBA legend Dominique Wilkins to sign with Panathinaikos to a $7 million contract in the mid-1990s.
During that time Dimitrios was courting Jimmer, Fredette played for the New Orleans Pelicans, Westchester Knicks, New York Knicks, Shanghai Sharks, and the Phoenix Suns.
Jimmer’s two-year contract with Panathinaikos will be worth $3.5 million net, before taxes. It’s the second-biggest contract on Panathinaikos’ roster at the moment. The only player who will be making more is Greece native and former Florida Gator Nick Calathes.
Along with a lucrative offer from Panathinaikos, Jimmer had an offer to return to China for even more money. Zakkas weighed in on why he thought Jimmer ultimately chose Panathinaikos.
“I think what Panathinaikos has to offer is a more stable environment comparing to some Chinese teams. A crazy court with 20,000 people cheering for you, a EuroLeague competition which is better than the Chinese CBA, it’s a tougher, and it’s a better league for sure and it’s a big powerhouse,” said Zakkas.
“But let’s be honest, life in Athens is really, really good. I think that Athens is a big city that can provide you anything and can fulfill not only Jimmer as a person but his family too. With good schools, good restaurants, everything. Panathinaikos is a very attractive situation for a lot of players around Europe and around the USA. Shows that when a Hall of Famer like Rick Pitino decided to live here and coach here for six months,” Zakkas said.
The family aspect likely played a huge role in Jimmer’s decision as he has a wife and two young kids with his spouse.
No matter what it’s great to know that Panathinaikos’ owner like so many Cougar fans has had a case of Jimmermania that he just couldn’t get rid of. EuroLeague play begins this October.
To listen to the full interview with Greece Basketball Insider George Zakkas, listen to the Cougar Tracks Podcast below.
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Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.