The WNBA’s league office has announced a plan to reopen and begin its 2020 season late this July via Twitter, per a release via the league’s Twitter this Monday. This follows discussion with the league’s governors, shareholders, and the Women’s National Basketball Players Association.
Unlike the NBA, the WNBA had not begun its season when stay at home orders went into effect in March.
As such, all 12 teams will be invited into the bubble at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida for an abbreviated 22-game regular season, followed by a playoffs with the traditional format. Similar to the NBA’s relaunch, the WNBA will be establishing “necessary and extensive protocols” for the “health and safety of players and essential staff.” Despite the truncated season, each player will be paid their full salary. “The WNBA and its Board of Governors believe strongly in supporting and valuing the elite women athletes who play in the WNBA,” said commissioner Cathy Engelbert, “Therefore, players will receive their full pay and benefits during the 2020 season.”
Amid ongoing Black Lives Matter protests, the league and the WNBPA will also be collaborating on a “devoted platform led by the players that will aim to support and strengthen both the league and teams’ reach and impact on social justice matters.” What this will look like and how it will directly interact with the movement is yet to be seen, but WNBPA president Nneka Ogwumike stresses that having WNBA players together on one campus presents an unprecedented “opportunity to amplify our collective voice.”
Like the NBA, some players have expressed concerns about playing, with several WNBA players having attended Kyrie Irving’s Zoom conference call, per Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes. While no players have come forward yet (despite some false reports), free agent WNBA insider Matt Ellentuck reports via Twitter that we should not expect to see every player playing. As I previously wrote, we should not expect to see many foreign players joining their squads this season, though we will have to wait and see who else is sitting out.
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