Deng clear to play for Team GB – but at a cost


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The Independent Online

British Basketball's performance director, Chris Spice, has opened a war of words with the NBA and the Chicago Bulls over Luol Deng's availability for this summer's Olympic Games.

The Great Britain star has reportedly come under pressure from his American club to consider skipping London 2012 in order to recuperate from a wrist injury which might require surgery before the start of next season.

While international rulespreclude teams from ordering players to withdraw, it is expected that the governing body will have to pay aninsurance premium of over £250,000 to cover the South Sudan-born forward torepresent his adopted country in a series of pre-Olympic friendlies as well as the Games themselves.

However, Spice says British Basketball will foot the billfor the cost, which has been pushed up by Deng's inclusion on the NBA's own high-risk list of players.

"The insurance to cover Luol is always expensive due to hishigh value, and due to the back exclusion placed on him by the NBA's insurers some years ago," the Australian said.

"Our medical expert opinion remains that his back is noworse than others in the NBA, but we have had to continue to cover this as we are contracted to do. Unfortunately, we have had no support from the NBA regarding this issue, which remains a constant disappointment. His wrist situation will make this exorbitant premium even more expensive and we will have to make sacrifices to all our other programmes if we are to make this happen.

"It is difficult, but there is only one Luol Deng and there is only one London 2012 Olympics."

Britain begin their pre-Olympic training camp inHouston on 14 June and will hope to have Deng available for their opening friendly against Nigeria seven days later.