MADRID (EuroBasket 2011) - The NBA lockout is a migraine that Spanish Basketball Federation (FEB) president Jose Luis Saez could have done without.
He could see it coming like a locomotive on a railroad track, and its impact on international basketball has been severe.
The lockout has led to a shutdown in NBA league operations.
Federations, like Spain's FEB, must figure out a way to insure their NBA players so they can compete at the EuroBasket.
It is a costly exercise, one that has so far not been resolved. And the clock is ticking.
National team coaches and players are expected to begin training for the EuroBasket later this month.
Spain have an NBA contingent that is second to none in Europe.
There are EuroBasket 2009 MVP Pau Gasol of the Los Angeles Lakers and his brother, Marc, of the Memphis Grizzlies.
There are Toronto Raptors point guard Jose Calderon, new Dallas Maverick Rudy Fernandez and Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio.
Saez spoke to FIBA.com on Friday.
FIBA: Will you have all of Spain's NBA players at the EuroBasket?
Jose Luis Saez: That is my desire and that is what we are working for. We have worked on this in a serious and rigorous manner for several months from the moment we knew there was the possibility of the NBA lockout. I hope and I wish that we will be able to have all of our players available from the first day of training. First, the players have given their availability and secondly, we have two channels available, one is to get the insurance and the other to get the finance needed for this to happen.
FIBA: What can you tell us about this week's meetings with Argentina Basketball Confederation president German Vaccaro?
Jose Luis Saez: We have an annual meeting between the Argentina Basketball Confederation (CABB) and the Spanish Basketball Federation (FEB). We have a collaboration agreement but obviously, the crucial issue at the forefront for the both of us was the lockout situation and the possible financial situations of the Federations. There are federations that even if their interest and that of their players is to take part in their given tournaments, it is going to be very complicated. In certain cases, it would be important for certain institutions to help out financially.
FIBA: How much money will federations have to come up with to insure players?
Jose Luis Saez: The figures vary depending on the contracts, the specific cases of players, whether there have been injuries in the past. In Europe, the figure for insurance will surpass three to €4million (euro). That is, if you give availability to everyone. Those figures for many federations are unreachable. In Spain's case we are awaiting to see what quote we will be getting for maximum coverage. For many years we have been pioneers. The Spanish federation and its national team have provided since the 1990s, insurance to all of our players for the duration of their contracts.
FIBA: How challenging is this process for you and the FEB?
Jose Luis Saez: We have overcome other hurdles. What we are working on is trying to look at different possibilities. It is a very specific issue and above all, we have to have the right insurance and the companies to provide that coverage. The monitoring that is being done by FIBA Europe is another important thing. Next weekend there is going to be a meeting in Munich with all of the heads of the Federations that will take part in the EuroBasket and we hope that from that meeting a light will come out and that on 27 (July) everyone will be there as is the hope of everyone. I really hope that will be the case.
FIBA: What differences are brought about for the federations because of the lockout?
Jose Luis Saez: The insurance coverage that our players have is for the time they are with us and in the case there are any injuries, the time of recovery would also be included in the duration of his contract. The coverage time does not change with respect to what we did before the lockout. What changes is that before we would all go directly through one channel and the prices were more economical and now we have to do it individually as a federation.
FIBA: How does this dilemma compare to the one you faced back in 2007 when Spain star Jorge Garbajosa required special insurance to play at the EuroBasket?
Jose Luis Saez: Garbajosa's situation was more complicated because it was a specific injury and more complex when it came to getting coverage. But in this case now we are talking about healthy players. The players must be insured, regardless of whether they play or not for their national teams. At any time, any of them could have an accident whether it is training for the national team, training individually or walking on the street. It is a challenge and we hope we can overcome it. We have been working on this for a while now and we hope that everybody will be in agreement. In the case of Spain, I know that the players are in line to compete with the benefits we are giving them. They trust that the federation is always going to look at their protection and that they do not face a possible situation in the future with regards to their careers.
FIBA: Will there be an accepted way forward for all federations, or will there be different approaches?
Jose Luis Saez: There are so many federations and so many specific cases that we cannot generalise. We, as a federation, are working in one direction. We have to work with each player, each mediator to provide maximum coverage. Of course, depending on the zone your federation is in, there are other characteristics and they may do it a different way. I am aware that players from other countries are asking to be insured for a shorter time than with respect to the duration of their contracts. That depends on the relationship between the federations and their players in question.