Early July the NBA’s various summer leagues take place — rookies and young players try to impress coaches and scouts in the hope of securing a regular gig. But with the NBA lockout in full effect, those leagues are now canceled and the prospect of an extended work stoppage looms large.
Instead of summer leagues, hoopheads might turn to watch FIBA competitions that also fill the NBA’s offseason void, but NBA stars may not be there either. Because of the lockout, the insurance coverage normally afforded to players is not in effect, leaving the players’ national teams scrambling to fill the void. This year’s tourneys take on particular importance as pathways to Olympic qualification. Here’s a look at the situations of the four Bucks who play overseas for their homelands.
Andrew Bogut: Bogut is expected to miss the FIBA Oceania Tournament when Australia faces New Zealand for a three-game series in September. According to Brett Brown, head coach of the Aussie team,
The NBA lockout has made his insurance issues impossible for Basketball Australia and Andrew to feel comfortable that his contract would be fully insured in the event of injury and, as a group, we understand and support Andrew.
From the Bucks’ point-of-view, this development actually has quite a favorable outcome. Extra rest should benefit Bogut’s elbow immensely; one need only note Yao’s premature retirement this week as a case study of a NBA center who combined an overzealous international schedule and a history of injuries. A long lockout and shortened season for their star player may be the Bucks best path to success in 2011-12.
Luc Mbah a Moute: Luc’s situation with the Cameroonian team is similar to what Bogut faces. As Cameroon’s national team prepares for the 2011 FIBA Africa Championship (also called Afrobasket), Mbah a Moute does not expect to be playing with his teammates in Madagascar due to insurance issues. As reported by FIBA.com,
The country needs Mbah a Moute as they go after the title that would secure their Olympic qualification but when asked if his basketball federation might cover the cost of his insurance, Mbah a Moute said to FIBA.com: “No, I don’t think they would pay that money for a single player.”
Carlos Delfino: Delfino and his Argentine team have the most disappointing situation of all. Given the chance to recreate — on home soil, no less — the team that went to Athens and won Olympic gold, Argentina now has the problem of trying to insure Delfino, Manu Ginobili, Andres Nocioni, and Luis Scola in the FIBA Americas Tournament. Argentina’s Basketball Confederation president German Vaccaro gave FIBA.com a glimpse of the the new math in the wake of the lockout:
“Before the lockout, we had everything stipulated with the NBA, considering the number of players, it was obviously much simpler for the insurance company,” Vaccaro said.
“It was a certain amount of money, that even though it was an important amount and a sacrifice for any federation, we knew what it was and it was definitely less than it is now.”
The cost of the insurance?
“We know it´s a lot of money, but we are not sure exactly,” Vaccaro said.
“What we have heard is that a player who has a three-year contract and is not one of the highest earners but an average one, if we had to insure him for the three years, we would be talking about 300,000 US dollars.
With those numbers in mind, insuring Argentina’s golden quartet becomes a million-dollar proposition, at the very least. Despite the problems, Vaccaro says he has two weeks to find a solution before the rosters are finalized. The team opens camp on July 29.
Ersan Ilyasova: Ilyasova has been named to the 18-man preliminary Turkish squad for the Eurobasket, FIBA’s championship tourney in Europe. When asked about the status of his team’s roster in relation to the NBA’s lockout situation, Turkish Basketball Federation president Turgay Demirel said, “We haven’t had any problems before the lockout and I don’t think that we will have problems now during the lockout.” NBA players Semih Erden, Omer Asik, Enes Kanter, and Hedo Turkoglu were also named to Turkey’s team, while Mehmet Okur was left off the roster due to injury.