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Volume 26 No. 60
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Breanna Stewart's Injury Could Impact WNBA's CBA Talks

Even players of Stewart's status -- she is the reigning WNBA MVP -- play overseas for extra income
Photo: getty images

The upcoming WNBA season and "perhaps the league’s future overall took a dramatic turn" on Sunday when Seattle Storm F Breanna Stewart "suffered what is believed to be a torn Achilles" while playing for Russian team Dynamo Kursk in the EuroLeague Final, according to Jeff Metcalfe of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. Stewart's injury will be a "lightning rod" for future CBA negotiations because WNBA salaries are "low enough that most players play year-round to maximize their earnings." The potential loss of Stewart, the league's reigning MVP, is "crippling" not only for the Storm but also for a league "coming off its best season at a time when it is about to renegotiate" its CBA. The WNBPA in November exercised its right to opt out early from the CBA after the '19 season. Players "bouncing from the WNBA to overseas leagues and back, combined with international competitions such as the Olympics and World Cup, has been an issue since the league began" in '97. It "won’t be resolved because of Stewart’s injury, but that could be an impetus for change." In addition to salaries, the players "want improved working conditions including better scheduling and travel" (AZCENTRAL.com, 4/15).

SOMETHING'S GOT TO GIVE: In Hartford, Mike Anthony notes many "elite women’s basketball players go about their professional lives, chasing supplemental cash from here to Timbuktu," a process that is "grueling and necessary." It "underscores the fight for WNBA players whose average salary is around $75,000." The players are "underpaid and overworked," issues that "must be addressed in the next collective bargaining agreement, issues that come under the microscope" with what happened to Stewart. She is "a transcendent player, a generational talent, and her injury is devastating to her short-term future, the Seattle Storm and an entire sport" (HARTFORD COURANT, 4/16). In New York, Marquel Slaughter writes the "elephant in the room is why [Stewart] is playing overseas in the first place" (Utica OBSERVER-DISPATCH, 4/16). 

ANOTHER BIG ABSENCE: In Seattle, Percy Allen noted Stewart’s injury will be "felt around the WNBA" that already will be missing Minnesota Lynx F Maya Moore, who is sitting out '19 due to personal reasons, and Dallas Wings G Skylar Diggins-Smith, who is pregnant and "expected to miss most of the season." It is also "uncertain" if Wings C Liz Cambage will return to the WNBA after "leading the league in scoring last season" (SEATTLE TIMES, 4/15).