Two weeks ago the Polish Basketball Federation announced that Marcin Gortat would miss EuroBasket 2011 because it could not secure adequate insurance for Gortat during the NBA lockout.
At the time a last-minute insurance deal seemed possible although unlikely, but now less than a week away from the tipoff of EuroBasket Gortat’s agent Guy Zucker definitively ruled Gortat out for the tournament.
“Marcin will not play in Eurobasket 2011,” Zucker wrote in an email to ValleyoftheSuns. “The Polish Federation made the decision almost two weeks ago. Obviously, we expected there to be a suitable policy to cover Marcin, but it turned out that there wasn’t. He was disappointed, naturally, but it was out of his hands.”
Gortat has three years and $21.8 million remaining on his contract with the Suns and was looking to get at least the first two years of his deal insured, yet he could only find insurance that would cover short-term injuries or career-ending ones.
With Maciej Lampe and Michal Ignerski also expected to miss the tournament, Gortat’s absence is quite the loss for Poland, who finished ninth in 2009 when The Polish Hammer led the tourney with 10.8 boards per game.
Gortat said in the Polish Federation statement that he deeply regrets this missed opportunity and declares his full support for his country’s basketball federation.
For Suns fans, aside from giving them a reason to watch this tournament (with Mickael Pietrus bowing out for France due to minor knee surgery it will be a Suns-less event) it’s too bad because Gortat could have gotten reps as “the man,” receiving all the defensive attention from opponents and responsibility for his team. This would have been an ideal place for him to practice what he learned about post offense earlier this summer from Hakeem Olajuwon.
I traded emails on the subject with Polish journalist Lukasz Ceglinski this week and he told me that perhaps we should not blame the lockout for Gortat missing out on EuroBasket, though.
After all, back in July Ceglinski asked Gortat if he would have played for Poland this year had there been no lockout and insurance was easier to come by and the Suns’ center said he would have missed it anyway to return to Phoenix to practice with his teammates in advance of the NBA season.
Dudley to play in Vegas Impact league, possibly write for Yahoo!
Jared Dudley, meanwhile, plans to take his talents to the Impact Basketball league that Hoopsworld reported will launch in September in Las Vegas.
No word on the kind of insurance Dudley will need to take out to protect his new five-year contract.
I write that in jest, but it just kind of shows the ridiculousness of the EuroBasket insurance issue since a player could suffer a serious injury working his butt off in Vegas (in either games or the general workouts JD has gone through all summer) just as easily as he could playing for his country. I still don’t think a team would move to void a reasonable contract for anything short of a Shaun Livingston situation. Don’t teams want their players to stay in shape rather than looking like Antoine Walker did after the ’98 lockout?
As for the topic at hand, what better way to prepare for an NBA season than to compete against NBA players? Impact’s league will feature only NBA players as opposed to the Drew and Goodman leagues that also include amateurs as pro-am leagues.
“It really gets guys ready for the NBA season,” Dudley told Hoopsworld. “I’m excited every summer because at Impact, you only can get better. Now, the games are there to put what you learn into action on the court.”
Dudley tweeted that the games will start Sept. 12 with two games a day in the late afternoons and evenings. They might even stream the games live online.
It will be really interesting to see how players on rival teams play together. Assuming they don’t compete with an All-Star Game mentality of all offense and no defense, some of these games could be really compelling.
When Dudley is not busy training and playing at Impact, he tweeted that it’s “in the works” that he may write for Yahoo! Sports once or twice a month.
Dudley already asks betters questions than many journalists when he puts on his postgame reporter hat during his JMZ segments, and his ability to tell things as he sees them should make him an interesting read.
Blanks, Gillespie invited to Basketball without Borders event
Phoenix Suns general manager Lance Blanks and assistant coach Noel Gillespie will join Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo for Basketball without Borders Africa 2011.
BWB, known as the NBA and FIBA’s “global basketball development and community outreach program,” will take place Sept. 1-4 in South Africa. The goal of the program is to use basketball to influence social change.