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Marcin Gortat of the Phoenix Suns was having trouble originally trying to play with the Polish national team, but it looked like in recent weeks things might work out for the best. Unfortunately, Gortat ended up back where he started, and he won't be playing in EuroBasket 2011. Michael Schwartz at Valley of the Suns has more.
"Marcin will not play in Eurobasket 2011," Zucker wrote in an email. "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.
It's too bad for Poland. With Gortat, the Polish team might have had a decent chance to play spoiler and upset some of the big names in the tournament. Without him, their Group A matchups with Spain and Turkey look like sure death sentences, and they'll have to struggle hard to beat Great Britain and Portugal as well. It's too bad Gortat won't get a chance to bang against the Gasol brothers and Serge Ibaka; he'll need all the work he can get refining his post schools during this likely interminable break from NBA basketball.
And yes, the NBA lockout can be blamed for many many things. Just don't try to pin that as the reason Gortat will be absent this offseason.
Back in July Ceglinski asked Gortat 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.
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Despite the NBA lockout holding strong, the Phoenix Suns released their 2011-12 preseason schedule on Thursday, with some intriguing match-ups and exotic locales on the docket.
They kick it off at home, hosting the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday, October 11 at the U.S. Airways Center, followed by back-to-back meetings with the Portland Trailblazers. Their first game is on Saturday, October 15 at the Rose Garden, then travel up North to Vancouver to play them again two days later at Rogers Arena.
From there they head to the Bay to take on the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena on the 18th, then another back-to-back match up with the Denver Nuggets; at the U.S. Airways Center on the 20th, then at the Pepsi Center in Denver on the 23rd. They wrap up their preseason at home on Tuesday the 25th against the Oklahoma City Thunder, before they embark on their regular season quest a few days later.
DATE OPPONENT SITE TIME
Tues., Oct. 11 L.A. Clippers US Airways Center, Phoenix 7 p.m.
Sat., Oct. 15 Portland Trail Blazers Rose Garden, Portland 7 p.m.
Mon., Oct. 17 Portland Trail Blazers Rogers Arena, Vancouver, Canada 7 p.m.
Tues., Oct. 18 Golden St. Warriors ORACLE Arena, Oakland 7:30 p.m.
Thurs., Oct. 20 Denver Nuggets US Airways Center, Phoenix 7 p.m.
Sun., Oct. 23 Denver Nuggets Pepsi Center, Denver 6 p.m.
Tues., Oct. 25 Okla. City Thunder US Airways Center, Phoenix 7 p.m.
All times Phoenix time
Just one day after Marcin Gortat's agent said there was time to find a solution to the insurance problem, the Polish Basketball Federation announced that Gortat wouldn't play for the team this year. Gortat was disappointed according to this translation:
Polish NT won't have Marcin Gortat at Eurobasket 2011 | National Teams | National Teams | Sportando
"I am very disappointed I cannot play with the team at Eurobasket. This season we are a very good team"
Word from Polish media is that the team pulled the plug for "sporting reasons" which likely means they wanted to have their roster nailed down for the preliminary games and didn't want the constant distraction of Gortat's situation hanging over their heads. Or maybe, they are just pressuring Marcin to accept some kind of a lesser insurance policy and play anyway. We'll see.
Gortat was the only Phoenix Suns player scheduled to play in the tournament so it seems we won't have anyone to follow.
Marcin Gortat is looking forward to playing for his Polish national team in the upcoming European Basketball Championships that start at the end of August. But according to his agent, the NBA lockout has prevented him from getting needed insurance to cover his NBA contract. This issue was thought to be resolved when Gortat recently traveled to Cyprus with the national team for a preliminary game, but Marcin left the team once it was discovered that the insurance policy didn't cover what his agent wanted it to cover.
"It's totally up to insurance companies covering what is maybe not a direct liability but obviously a logical liability considering that we are in the lockout situation which is what's causing this entire problem to begin with," Gortat's agent Guy Zucker explained.
"A scenario would consist of the possibility of Marcin sustaining some sort of injury that's not career threatening but serious enough to keep him out of action for an extensive period of time and the Suns having the option of terminating the remaining three years of his contract. It sounds simple but it's not easy to insure something like that."
Typically, an insurance policy would only need to cover the duration of an NBA player's injury when they play for their home country but according to Zucker, the NBA has made it clear that they could terminate the remaining portion of a player's contract if they are injured playing overseas.
Gortat has three years left on his contract with the Suns worth $22 million according to Zucker. Since there is no CBA right now to guarantee the contract in case of injury, an insurance policy is needed to protect the center in case of injury.
The need to cover the possibility of a non-career threatening incident greatly increases the risk to the insurance company since those types of injuries are much more common. From Gortat's perspective, he'd be putting the remaining $22 million on the line if he played without sufficient insurance coverage.
Other NBA players with significant time left on their contract including as Toronto's Andrea Bargnani (Italy) have figured out a solution to the insurance issue and are with their national teams already. Zucker said, however, that he's not yet been shown a policy that meets Gortat's needs despite his willingness to accept only partial coverage of his contract with the Suns.
The agent couldn't comment on what risk other players might be willing to take and wouldn't specify what percentage of his NBA contract Gortat was looking to have covered by insurance and what percent he was willing to put at risk.
"We're looking for 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," Zucker said.
There's still time to work out a solution and Zucker described Gortat as very anxious to play for his country since it might be the only organized and competitive basketball he plays until the NBA lockout is resolved. He's anxious to both represent Poland and also try out the new moves he learned working with Hakeem Olajuwaon.
No Russian Team For Gortat
In addition to this issue with playing for his national team, Gortat will not be playing in Russia as previously reported.
The Spartak team from St. Petersburg was very interested in Marcin but never made a formal offer according to his agent. They were apparently unwilling to tie up so much money with a player who might leave during the season if the NBA lockout ends.
As a general rule, the European teams are facing significant financial pressures from the general global economic situation. The biggest name players might be worth the money and lesser known (lower cost) players will find jobs with European teams, but for mid-career guys like Gortat, Jared Dudley and Channing Frye with NBA contracts remaining it likely won't make sense.
Phoenix Suns center, Marcin Gortat, could join the growing list of NBA players to consider playing overseas if the NBA Lockout continues. According to Polish media reports, Gortat was in Gdansk Friday when he said that it's very probable he'll play in Russia. Gortat wouldn't name the specific team, but said it was in a "beautiful city".
Gortat is in Poland taking part in some kind of combo tennis / basketball exhibition with top Polish tennis players Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski. Marcin is touring the country meeting with kids as part of this camp and took advantage of the BNP Paribas Polish Open near Gdansk to show off his tennis skills. We can only imagine that he covers a lot of net with his seven-foot wing span.
Here's a Polish version of the news:
Marcin Gortat: I'll be playing in the Russian league - NBA - Sport INTERIA.PL
- Outdated is my opportunity to play in the Polish league, which is constantly evolving, but in terms of Russia's far inferior league. I do not want to reveal the details, I can only say that I played in a very nice city. July 22 is coming to Warsaw, my manager, and then probably give more information - Gortat said.
Gortat originally told SB Nation Arizona that it was unlikely he would play for the Polish national team this summer, citing issues with insurance and a desire to stay in the states and work on his game. But just a few days ago he seemed to reverse that decision.
FIBA – International basketball deals with lockout | FIBA.COM
"I'll be playing in the Polish squad," Gortat said. "The condition, however, is that the Polish Basketball Federation pay the insurance which the Phoenix Suns provide me but doesn't apply during the lockout."
Marcin Gortat figures to be a big part of the Suns' plans for next season, but like other players he seems to be seeing the possibility of a extended lockout and exploring his options to play elsewhere.
Suns' swingman, Mickael Pietrus is facing a similar situation. His agent told the Arizona Republic that Pietrus has an offer to play in Turkey but hadn't made a decision yet. Pietrus will miss playing for the French team due to a minor knee surgery according to the report.
Here's some recent video of Marcin Gortat working with kids at one of his basketball camps:
And so it begins...
The National Basketball Association announced that it will commence a lockout of its players, effective at 12:01 am ET on July 1, until a new collective bargaining agreement is reached with the National Basketball Players Association.
"The expiring collective bargaining agreement created a broken system that produced huge financial losses for our teams," said NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver. "We need a sustainable business model that allows all 30 teams to be able to compete for a championship, fairly compensates our players, and provides teams, if well-managed, with an opportunity to be profitable."
[...] During the lockout, players will not receive their salaries; teams will not negotiate, sign or trade player contracts; players will not be able to use team facilities for any purpose; and teams will not conduct or facilitate any summer camps, exhibitions, practices, workouts, coaching sessions, or team meetings.
The Phoenix Suns, like the rest of the NBA, will soon be settling in for a long hibernation that will come with the pending lockout. No one can quite agree on how long with labor dispute will last, but with the two sides so far apart it doesn't look good.
The Suns, according to a report in the Phoenix Business Journal, won't furlough or layoff any of their front office staff like the Arizona Cardinals did during the NFL lockout. But that decision seems to only be good for the normally scheduled offseason. If the lockout extends into October and the games start getting missed, the impact could run much deeper than the well-paid players and wealthy team owners.
Phoenix Suns won’t furlough or layoff workers if NBA locks out players | Phoenix Business Journal
The Suns won’t take a similar path unless games are lost in the fall, according to two sources familiar with the team. The Suns looked at some furlough options, including a 4-day work week, but are opting not to go that path, according the officials.
One very visible change once the clock strikes "game over" for the current CBA, is the removal of any and all player references from team marketing materials. All the NBA web sites will have to be scrubbed of player names, pictures or video. Even posters or billboards around town that show a player in uniform will have to come down.
Even without the players you can expect to see the Suns working hard to try and keep their name out in front of the community. Events like this week's visit to Wet 'N Wild water park is part of what they are calling "Operation Orange" which will keep the marketing and sales staff busy and possibly even generating a little income by sending the poor Gorilla into the hot Phoenix sun on missions of branding and promotion.
In the next few months the impact of the lockout will be minimal beyond that.
With the NFL lockout that began in March, it appears the sides are close to a deal that would allow time to restart the free agency process and get the teams back together in time for a normal training camp season. For the NBA with a much shorter offseason, the two side only have until late August or mid-September before the normal routine starts getting postponed.
There's always hope the two sides will find some sort of workable solution before that happens. But with the owners determined to dramatically roll back the players' pay and guarantee profits to even the league's most poorly run teams, that doesn't seem likely.
Settle in folks, this could be a long one.
The NBA lockout may be upon us, and David Stern isn't helping: the league's latest proposal is completely and utterly unreasonable. See what it would have done to the NBA over the last 10 years.
Be sure to read the Full Story Here
Let's talk about the Phoenix Suns Phoenix is the 14th largest metropolis in the country (when including surrounding areas covered by the same TV networks; Dallas is 4th, by the way), placing them right in the middle of the 30 NBA teams in terms of market size.
The Phoenix market compares more to San Antonio, Detroit and Minnesota than Dallas and LA. Robert Sarver spent a boatload on the Suns just 7 years ago and likely has not seen a healthy profit in any year since 2004-2005 when the Suns took the league by storm on the back of a relatively low payroll.
Sarver is one of the "young" owners who haven't seen the return they'd hoped for, but don't pretend that he's alone. Without better revenue sharing, the system is skewed toward the bigger markets being able to afford the highest payrolls year over year. The only penalty a team will incur for over-paying is the dollar-for-dollar "luxury" tax. Yet when the big markets make 5 times more money on local revenue (ie. on top of ticket sales), they can more than afford that penalty.
The NBA owners and Players Association are just days away from the July 1 expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement. The CBA governs, among many other things, how the giant pie of money created by their sport is divided. The owners are looking for massive changes to the system to essentially guarantee their ability to generate profits while the players want to be fairly compensated for the their part in generating the piles of cash.
As this brilliant graphic from SB Nation's Tom Ziller illustrates, the real issue is between the big market owners and the small market owners. The franchise owners wants the players to give back more of their pie to help the small market teams while the players, naturally, want the big market owners to share more of their profits with their less fortunate club members.
The players in the Phoenix Suns locker room spoke openly all last season about the potential work stoppage. The message was preparation. They know that their only chance to sustain an extended lockout against the much wealthier owners is to maintain their solidarity and that means saving money so they hold out for a better deal.
The guy sharing his wisdom on this (as with so many other matters) is Grant Hill. Hill recently repeated comments we'd heard many times before.
Hill: Players learned from lockout - NBA - Yahoo! Sports
"You hear a lockout and you don't know what that means," Hill said. "I think we are all sort of conditioned right when Labor Day and October and November roll around, you start playing. And all of the sudden you're not.
"You want to stay in shape. You want to stay mentally and physically ready. You want to be wise with purchases and you want to make sure financially you can weather the storm. The young guys have been really good in terms of asking [questions]."
There's certainly time for a lockout to be avoided and David Stern has made it clear that they can extend the clock to buy more time if the two sides are actively nearing a solution. Just like the NFL did in March, it's likely we will see such an extension as both sides want to give every appearance of trying hard to resolve the issues before the owners pull the plug. Let's all just hope there's a fair solution to be found before this gets really ugly.
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