Your NBA Contract Might Clash With Your National Team

The Great Britain team is in the fight of its life, trying to keep Luol Deng on the team.

What's the big obstacle? Is he hurt? Something wrong with his passport?

No. It's nothing like that. It's more about the fact that, thanks to his new contract, he's a little tough to insure.

Ian Whittell, writing on Basketball247, writes:

Deng, 23, signed a lucrative new deal with the Chicago Bulls two weeks ago after passing a battery of medical tests.

But the NBA's New York insurance company, which must cover all NBA players before they can play for their national teams, has refused to completely insure that contract because of an old back injury.

Deng missed three games in November with a minor back problem and the insurance broker's decision is based on an MRI scan taken then. Although a policy has been issued it does not cover that part of the player's body.

Under an arrangement with world-governing body FIBA, the NBA is obliged to release any player who wishes to play for his national team but only if insurance requirements are totally met. ...

GB officials were last night exploring their options and preparing to lodge an appeal with the NBA -- a step which sources claim would be futile.

The only other alternative would be for the GB federation to negotiate with the Bulls and insure Deng's contract themselves which is likely to prove impossible after the NBA's decision.

Deng has been training with the team for much of this summer, and last summer. He's excited to play for Great Britain. Deng is, essentially, the great hope of the sport in Great Britain, as that country prepares to host the Olympics in four years.

Deng is not the first NBA player to have this problem. He's wrestling with an issue that has dogged Zydrunas Ilgauskas and others.

It's a small point, in the big picture, but as the NBA is increasingly competing with top overseas teams for talent, it's probably not great for non-American players to learn the NBA's own insurance company can keep them from their national teams.