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Tony Parker (France)
NBA - Players in NT training despite lockout

GENEVA (NBA) - The NBA lockout is now more than two weeks old and no date has been scheduled for the next negotiating session between the owners and the NBA Players Association.

The lockout went into effect on June 30 and forced the NBA to shut down its league operations.

It also left fans wondering which NBA players will represent their countries in the various Olympic qualifying tournaments since the burden of paying for the players’ insurance is now on the basketball federations.

There is plenty of cause for optimism, though.

The director of the French national team, Patrick Beesley, when asked about the insurance issue, told L'Equipe this week: "What you don't know is that we've been on this for eight months, that we got onto it before everyone else."

The national team players have already gathered in Paris to launch their preparations for the EuroBasket, including those from the NBA like Tony Parker of San Antonio, Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls and Nicolas Batum of the Portland Trail Blazers.

Batum says he is only thinking about the EuroBasket in Lithuania, and France’s bid to clinch at least a top-six finish to earn a trip to the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

"It (the lockout) doesn't affect us," Batum said to L'Equipe.

"I know that this will be solved at a given moment, maybe even before the end of the week."

Batum and his teammates will book a place in the London Games if they reach the Final in Lithuania.

No one has made a public announcement about the exact cost of insurance for NBA players but that figure likely dropped on Thursday for the French when they announced Phoenix Suns sharpshooter Mickael Pietrus won't play this summer.

The federation took the decision following medical examinations of the player this week.

France did not specify what medical concern led them to releasing him from squad, although Pietrus, who last played for France at the 2006 FIBA World Championship, has been hampered by injuries in recent campaigns.

One of the teams Les Bleus could face at EuroBasket is Slovenia, who yesterday confirmed that star guard Goran Dragic will be in Lithuania.

"Goran Dragic will play 110 percent sure," Slovenia's basketball federation's Deputy Secretary General Matej Avanzo told FIBA.

Down Under, Australia have all but ruled out Milwaukee Bucks center Andrew Bogut because of the high cost of insurance he would require but they have announced that another of their NBA players, Trail Blazers point guard Patty Mills, is in the 24-man ‘Golden Star’ Australian Boomers squad for their upcoming Gold Coast training camp from July 25-29.

Australia will play New Zealand in the FIBA Oceania Championship later this summer with the winner advancing to the London Games.

There has also been an upbeat message by Manu Ginobili of Argentina, too.

"Insurances will be achieved,” he said to Radio Splendid.

“The question is at how much and at what conditions.

“There are many countries that have NBA players. (But) I don't doubt we will all be there."

Luis Scola, Andres Nocioni and Carlos Delfino are the other NBA players in the Argentina national team.


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