The NBA lockout has already prevented Marcin Gortat from playing for his home country Poland in EuroBasket play, but if it is not resolved soon it will allow fellow Suns big man Gani Lawal to play Polish basketball this year.
Lawal became the first Sun to commit to overseas play by signing a deal with the Polish club Zastal Zielona Gora, according to The Arizona Republic. The deal will allow Lawal to return to the States once the lockout is over.
Gani essentially missed his rookie season as he tore his ACL and partially tore his MCL in January coming down on a dunk in practice and played only two minutes in one game before the injury.
Lawal rehabbed into the summer and now he needs the reps this Polish contract will provide that he missed out on as a rookie.
“It’s a good opportunity for me to get good minutes,” Lawal told The Republic. “That’s the biggest thing — to get in playing form. I haven’t competed in so long. I’m hungry. I’m young in this game and thankful to have a situation to get in game rhythm.”
Lawal is not exactly assured of a Suns roster spot even when the NBA reaches a labor agreement as he has a nonguaranteed deal that could be worth as much as $788,872 on the table when he returns to the States.
The Suns have plenty of depth at power forward (although perhaps not plenty of quality depth) with Channing Frye, Markieff Morris and Hakim Warrick at the position as well.
On draft day, Suns GM Lance Blanks said, ”Gani will be basically like a rookie again having to come back from the knee injury. … He’s a little younger in his basketball life than Markieff is.”
On the flip side, Gani’s agent pointed out in Coro’s piece that the Suns invested plenty of resources in Lawal’s rehab before the lockout, which they presumably would not do for a player they did not see as being part of their future to some degree at least.
Lawal’s chance of finding a permanent home in Phoenix can only strengthened by the time he spends in Poland during which he can play his way into game shape after the injury and work on some areas of his game he didn’t get to spend as much time on as a rookie because of his knee.
In all, it’s a winning situation for Lawal and the Suns for the second-year player to get some run (and payment) overseas before he returns to prove his worth as an NBA player.
Hakim Warrick is scheduled to join Jared Dudley in the Impact Basketball Competitive Training Series that starts next week. Channing Frye is also on the list but said on Twitter he won’t be participating. … HoopsWorld’s Alex Kennedy tweeted that the Suns held a minicamp in San Diego last week that was organized by Steve Nash and saw most of the team participating.
Tags: Gani Lawal