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Indiana Fever guard Shavonte Zellous just wants to play basketball overseas – and be paid for her efforts.
After one of the most successful seasons in her career, leading Turkish power Galatasaray to championships in both the domestic league and Euroleague, Zellous is now embroiled in a salary dispute.
Zellous said the club’s former president promised the players their bonuses would be doubled after Galatasaray beat rival Fenerbahce. They’re still waiting for their money.
The 28-year-old guard and her representatives have filed a grievance with the international basketball federation and the case will be decided by an arbitrator assigned by FIBA.
Zellous said she is owed more than $100 000 – about the same as her WNBA salary – and hopes to have a decision by the end of the year.
The situation has gotten sticky.
Zellous refused to go back to the team this winter until she got what she was owed in bonuses. The Turkish club terminated her $315 000 annual contract in late September.
“In the WNBA you get paid every two weeks, there it’s once a month,” Zellous said. “I finished playing with them in May and here we are and I still haven’t been paid.”
As of Friday, none of the players from last year’s team, including Connecticut Sun forward Kelsey Bone, had been paid their bonuses yet.
The club had a recent change in its front office with team president Ünal Aysal stepping down effective October 25 and being replaced by Duygun Yarsuvat.
Galatasaray general manager Murat Ozyer said in a phone interview that in his opinion Zellous had been paid the money she was owed. The team started fining her when she didn't show up to play.
“She refused to come because she said she didn’t get her bonuses,” Ozyer said. “She doesn’t want to come. We explained to her that after three weeks when she didn’t show up we’d cut her.”
The back-and-forth has left Zellous in limbo, working out in Indiana and waiting for a resolution.
Despite being cut, she can’t play for another team unless she’s granted a FIBA letter of clearance by Galatasaray and the club is paid a transfer fee.
“It’s frustrating because you have to wait for this process to go through,” said Zellous, who averaged 16.3 points last season for Gala.
“I’ve been playing since I was a kid and just want to continue doing what I do. I work out five times a week and try and stay court ready. I do the same things if I was playing, just there are no games. When I get the opportunity I’ll be ready,” she said.
Zellous was looking forward to going back to the team and defending the championships.
“I love the team, the head coach there, have nothing but nice things to say about the coach,” said Zellous, who played collegiately at Pittsburgh. “I learned a lot playing with them last year. They are having money problems and that’s the frustrating thing.”
Though she did not go into details about what financial issues the club is having, she said if the situation can be resolved she would return.
“I think I would go back over there,” Zellous said. “I love Istanbul, it’s a great city. I love the coach, love the team we have. Everything was good. That's why it’s sad.”