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NBA Lockout Preventing Marcin Gortat Playing For Poland, Agent Says

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.