Marcin Gortat feels like he represents Poland every day in the United States as the only current Polish basketball player in the NBA, but he likely won’t be able to represent his country in FIBA play this summer due to insurance issues exacerbated by the NBA lockout, his agent told multiple outlets.
NBA teams generally cover the insurance policies when their players compete for their country in international competitions. That, of course, is not the case this season due to the lockout so players and national teams are left to scramble to secure this insurance.
Polish journalist Lukasz Ceglinski told me on July 20 that the Polish national team’s general manager thought at that time that he had no doubt the insurance issue would be resolved in time for Gortat to represent Poland in EuroBasket 2011, but Gortat’s agent Guy Zucker told The Arizona Republic today that no longer appears likely after an offseason worth of negotiating with insurance companies.
Gortat has three years and $21.8 million left on his contract and is willing to play under an insurance deal that insures just the first two seasons yet Team Gortat has still yet to find an insurance company that can cover more than a short-term injury or a career-ender.
“He really wants to play and loves the national team,” Zucker told The Republic. “He’s the most important player on the team and was going to be the captain. He’s really unhappy. He’s a very proud citizen and wants to represent them. He’s definitely not a happy camper but he’s got $22 million coming and can’t make an emotional decision. This is a business where the phone stops ringing when you get a serious injury.”
This is definitely a shame for all parties involved. Gortat could use this time to work on his post game and gain more experience leading a team — which would make him a better player for the Suns — Poland would obviously be much better with its star big man playing and the Polish fans will now miss out on seeing their national hero in action, not to mention Suns fans.
Insurance figures to continue to be one of the most important issues as players commit to national team play or sign with squads overseas. A catastrophic injury would cost some of these guys millions.
I’m not advocating anybody play without insurance with so much money potentially on the line, but it bears mentioning that the Suns likely wouldn’t move to void Gortat’s contract if he suffers anything other than a career-threatening injury. Even if he suffers something as awful as a broken leg he’s still going to come back and eventually be the force he was last season.
Anything short of a Shaun Livingston catastrophe I couldn’t see any NBA team wanting to void one of its better players’ deals, especially a reasonable contract such as Gortat’s.
That being said, I understand that Gortat can’t play without insurance, it’s just a bit head scratching to me that no insurance carrier can figure out a reasonable deal.
As SBNation reported, Team Gortat needs an insurance company to “quantify the cost for providing such policy and then it’s up to the (Polish Basketball) Federation to say if they can pay for it or not.”
It’s hard to say what the Polish Basketball Federation can afford, but I assume they are doing everything possible to get Gortat into uniform, and we know how badly The Polish Hammer wants to represent his country.
EuroBasket doesn’t start until Aug. 31 so there is still time, but it would be a shame if insurance issues stemming from the lockout rob Poland of its star and Gortat of valuable developmental time.
Markieff could play overseas, Gortat won’t
Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports tweeted that Suns rookie forward Markieff Morris is considering playing overseas next season. According to Spears, Morris’ agent Tony Dutt is in “serious contract talks with Greece Panathinaikos.”
It would be interesting to see what kind of insurance policy Morris might take out if this comes to fruition being that it would be based off future earning power since he has yet to sign his first NBA deal.
Coro reported that Dutt is looking for an out clause for when the NBA season resumes. Assuming he gets that and assuming no major injury, Morris getting run with the defending Euroleague champ can only be seen as a good thing as he would get real world professional experience and continue to hone his game against quality competition.
Gortat, on the other hand, will not be playing overseas, according to the aforementioned SBNation report. Spartak St. Petersburg was interested but did not make an offer because the organization did not want to spend so much cash on a player who could leave at a moment’s notice.