Nene will not play for Brazil this summer, sign of free agency

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This summer, from Argentina to Lithuania, international basketball tournaments will be taking place with berths in the 2012 London Olympics at stake.

But NBA contracts and the lockout will play a role.

For example, soon to be free agent Nene will not be playing for Brazil this summer, according to the Associated Press.

The Brazilian basketball confederation said Nene asked to be released on Friday, citing “personal” and “contractual” reasons. The confederation said Nene’s one-sentence statement did not provide any further explanation for his request.

Nene is expected to become a free agent this summer, although Denver is working hard to get him an extension before the lockout starts July 1. This is a sign he wants to test the market. It’s not a shock that a guy on the brink of a free agent massive payday may not want to risk injury in international ball.

But with the lockout, he and a number of NBA players who could play for their countries this summer face another problem — insurance. With the lockout all the insurance for these players goes away. That dramatically ups the risk of playing in these FIBA tournaments, if an arrangement cannot be worked out. And that is how the NBA lockout could impact the Olympics.