Parker not locked out of hoops in France

By Jeff McDonald

It appears Les Bleus have their point guard.

The French Basketball Federation has obtained insurance sufficient to cover the contracts of its NBA players, paving the way for the Spurs’ Tony Parker to play in the Eurobasket tournament in Lithuania later this summer.

The announcement came via a post on the official website for FIBA, the sport’s international governing body.

The question of insurance for international players has been a hot-button issue since the start of the NBA’s lockout July 1.

Typically, the NBA agrees to pay to insure 80 percent of a player’s salary, with foreign federations left to foot the remaining 20 percent. With a work stoppage in effect, however, the NBA has been unwilling to pick up its share of the tab, leaving the often cash-strapped international teams to shoulder the full financial burden.

For the French federation, that meant securing coverage for more than $125 million worth of NBA contracts. Earlier this summer, Parker said he wouldn’t consider playing this summer unless his contract was insured.

That obstacle cleared, the 29-year-old Parker was set to join fellow French NBA players Boris Diaw, Ronny Turiaf and Nicolas Batum for the start of training camp Wednesday in southern France. Eurobasket, an Olympic qualifying tournament, begins Aug. 31.

News of Les Bleus’ success in obtaining insurance came following a Tuesday meeting in New York between NBA commissioner David Stern and FIBA officials, though it is uncertain if the resolution was a direct result of those talks.

“Even before the formalization of the NBA lockout … the French Basketball Federation began working on insurance contracts of employment of selected players, in particular by proposing a pooling of insurance for all the federations concerned,” read a statement posted to “Thanks to this French initiative, the coverage of the players is finalized.”

As such, Parker becomes the second Spurs player formally insured to play in this summer’s round of Olympic qualifiers.

Brazil announced last week it had secured insurance for its NBA contingent, making Spurs center Tiago Splitter available for the Tournament of Americas, which tips off Aug. 30 in Mar del Plata, Argentina.

Meanwhile, Spurs guard Manu Ginobili and newly drafted point guard Cory Joseph are awaiting a resolution that would allow them to play for Argentina and Canada, respectively, in the same tournament.

In order for the Argentine federation to field its complete roster, which also includes NBA players Luis Scola, Carlos Delfino and Andres Nocioni, it must first obtain coverage for about $75 million worth of contracts.

In an interview on Argentine television earlier this month, Ginobili said he was “optimistic” the insurance issue would be resolved in time for the team to open training camp July 29.

Leave a Reply