According to his agency, ASM Sports, Phoenix Suns forward Gani Lawal has agreed to play basketball for Zastal Zielona Góra in Poland. This is a brilliant move for young Gani who can't afford not to be playing organized hoops at this point in his career.
Lawal tore his ACL in January 2011 and has been anxious to return to the Suns this year. With the lockout preventing that, Gani needed to find another way to get himself on the court.
He has a non-guaranteed contract for the coming NBA season and with the Suns picking power forward Markieff Morris in the 2011 NBA Draft, Lawal's status was already uncertain. Lawal does have an opt-out clause in his contract with Zastal that would allow him to return to Phoenix when (if) the lockout ends.
It is vital for Gani to prove to scouts and other teams that he's recovered from his surgery and can play. He also needs the time to work on his game which was considered raw.
Lawal was drafted in second round in 2010 by the Suns and saw little playing time before his season-ending injury. He's an athletically gifted, tough rebounder who likes to bang inside. Based on what we saw in summer league last year, he also has the potential to develop some decent post moves.
What will hurt Gani with the Suns is the lack of an outside shot. That won't bother other teams nearly as much if he can prove that he can play team defense at the NBA level.
Lawal is a high-character player with a fantastic motor and great work ethic. The injury was difficult for him but he battled through and we wish him the best in Poland.