Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
When the FIBA World Championship tips off next month in Istanbul, Turkey, neither Amar’e Stoudmire nor Dirk Nowitzki will be there.
The Knicks askedStoudemire not to play for Team USA this summer in the World Championship because of insurance concerns related to his left knee.
Stoudemire, 27, underwent microfracture surgery on the knee in October 2005, but insurance doesn’t cover it should he suffer a career-ending injury.
“It was over insurance,” Knicks president Donnie Walsh said in an email.
Asked if it was too big a risk to let Stoudemire play, Walsh added:
“It always is but this would be extremely expensive. Plus, Amare played deep into playoffs [until June] and would play from today through Sept. 13 with USA and go to our training camp on Sept 24. [It’s] too much in one summer.”
“I understand both sides,” Stoudemire said in a press release from USA Basketball. “I definitely wanted to play.”
Phoenix initially declined to give Stoudemire a maximum contract, but the Knicks chimed in with a five-year deal worth $100 million.
Newsday reported that the Knicks are in the process of “securing insurance on the final four years” of the deal.
ESPN.com first reported the story.
Stoudemire’s agent, Happy Walters, did not return a text message or voicemail seeking comment.
“We’re disappointed,” USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said in a release. “But the team has the right to pull him like they did, because of the the lack of insurance coverage and his pre-existing injury situations.”
Nowitzki, who recently re-signed with the Dallas Mavericks for four years and $80 million, won’t play for Germany but said he will compete in next year’s EuroBasket to help Germany try to secure a place at the 2012 London Olympics.
Nowitzki said he believes Germany is good enough to contend without him.
“I watched the young German team (at the EuroBasket) in Poland and I think that they are very talented”, Nowitzki said.
“I also got to meet the team in Hamburg at the 2010 FIBA U17 World Championship and I am absolutely certain that they will play a great world championship representing Germany well. Next year, I will help the team reach our big goal to participate at the Olympics again.
“I have signed a new contract with the Dallas Mavericks. We have a new team with new conditions and I want to set my focus on the next NBA season this summer.”
Team USA began practicing in Las Vegas on Tuesday.
Superstars LeBron Wade, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony previously declined to play for the team for various reasons.
“When we need them, they’ll be there,” Syracuse head coach and Team USA assistant Jim Boeheim said last week in South Carolina.
Phoenix Suns center Robin Lopez is also not at the trials in Vegas, according to NBA.com’s John Schuhmann. Lopez injured his back March 26.
That leaves Tyson Chandler, David Lee, Jeff Green, Brook Lopez, Kevin Love and Lamar Odom as the team’s remaining big men.
Trials run from July 19-24 in Vegas and the team will reconvene in New York City in August. The World Championship begins Aug. 28 in Istanbul, Turkey.
(Photos courtesy USA Basketball and FIBA)
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.