Marcin Gortat, the poster boy for Polish basketball, returned to the US for a checkup on his injured foot. He still plans to play for Poland in Eurobasket 2013.
Big men do not have a good relationship with their feet. It's not like the bones and joints on big men are any stronger than the bones and joints on a little person. They just have to hold more weight. Add in basketball-type activities and the feet are pushed to their limits.
While the Suns wait to see how 19-year old Alex Len recovers from double ankle surgery to stave off stress fractures, they also cross their fingers over Marcin Gortat healing fully from a Lisfranc injury to his own foot.
Gortat has been training with Poland while preparing for Eurobasket 2013 (hosted by Slovenia who is led by teammate Goran Dragic), and all has been going well.
But he recently announced that he is taking a three week leave from the team to get his foot checked out by Suns doctors.
"Physically, I feel better and better, the rehabilitation is going well, but I still feel the pain of the foot, even during training," the 29-year-old big man said.
"I have to make sure that I will be healthy for the whole season."
To be sure, Gortat has to be as healthy as possible during the upcoming NBA season.
"There is a huge decision to make in front of me," Gortat said in April of the upcoming Eurobasket tournament this summer. "I'm going to decide about me playing for the national team in about 2-3 months. I have to rest, see how my foot's going to feel. I'm going to consider skipping most of the preparation.
"I don't want to have the same thing I had this year, hitting the wall after 20-30 games. It's not easy, no fun at all. I'm a competitor, I want to come out and compete every night. And I just wasn't able to do that so I'm definitely going to consider my whole situation with my national team."
For now, Gortat is taking three weeks off. He plans to rejoin the team for a prep tournament in late August. As long as his foot is healthy.
A healthy season could easily get him a $10 mill/year contract next summer at the age of 29. An injury-marred season would cut that number tremendously. And if, for some reason, he misses all of 2013-14 by re-injuring the foot during Eurobasket then Gortat might just be looking at a make-good NBA contract in 2014-15 with a lot of playing time incentives.
That's a lot of cheddar on the line. Expect Gortat to take the most conservative route to health for the upcoming NBA season.