“This is a sad day,” Hapoel Jerusalem admitted a few minutes after the official announcement came out of the departure of James Paladin after two years at the club. The team will announce in the coming days the extension of the contract of the coach, Oded Katash and only then will they build the staff for next season.
Paladin himself also sounded excited in a farewell post on his Instagram account. “Wow. I have a lot of emotions running through me in these moments,” the guard wrote. “When I signed in Jerusalem two years ago I came after a complicated season for all sorts of reasons and looked for a home. And I found one. I heard many good things about the organization but my time here surpassed even my wildest dreams. From the owners, professional staff, coach, teammates and most importantly the amazing fans “I have never felt more comfortable and at home than that. Thank you all for accepting me, I will always remember the city of Jerusalem as home and cherish my time there forever. And who knows? Maybe I will come back.”
Harel said goodbye on Twitter: “Thank you for everything. And I will keep your message that you promised to come back. You are part of the family for life, good luck.”
It is true that Hapoel Jerusalem in the last week has a strong desire to refresh the squad after the disappointing relegation for the third time in a row in the Final Four, and it is true that Paladin holds various offers from teams in Italy and Real Betis from the Spanish league, but in practice the parties did not want to part.
Paladin has a contract for another season that stands at about $ 450,000, a sum that is far from what Hapoel Jerusalem wants and can pay in the corona era. Yesterday (Saturday) the option on Paladin ended and the group preferred to release him with $ 50,000 compensation instead of offering him a much lower amount than his original contract.
Paladin’s release is just the tip of the iceberg in Hapoel Jerusalem’s list of problems. During the period in which Uri Alon held the shares, its budget was about NIS 40 million, and when he left, Jerusalem stated that the budget did not fall beyond 15 percent and stood at about NIS 34 million. Following the outbreak of the Corona virus and its consequences and the inability to bring in an audience, as well as the meager safety net set by the Ministry of Finance – an amount of NIS 5-4 million in compensation to Jerusalem – the club seems to be significantly cutting its budget by a 30 percent drop. In a quick calculation, this is a budget of NIS 24 million. It is true that this is still one of the high budgets in the league and the Corona’s blow does not only affect the Israeli teams but also the European ones, but it is still a hard blow to the club.
Like Paladin, next season’s contract holders are Tyson Thomas, Suleiman Braimo and Jacoben Brown, with bilateral compensation in the event of a $ 50,000 contract release. The group is interested in seeing the three of them continue in red, but should hold talks with them on the whole issue of the pay cut as they will not be able to meet their original contract. The sigh of relief in Jerusalem is that the three do not hold an expensive contract like Paladin’s, a matter that may help in this case.