Last week, the WNBA announced its plan to play the 2020 season at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. The 22-game regular season, which will be followed by a normal postseason format, will tip off in late July. Teams are expected to make their way to the bubble environment early next month, though no exact dates have been set.
Whenever players and teams do start making their way down to Florida, Jonquel Jones won't be among them. The Connecticut Sun star, and 2020 MVP candidate, announced on Instagram on Monday that she will be sitting out the season due to concerns about COVID-19.
After careful thought and consideration, I've decided to forego the upcoming WNBA season and use this time to focus on personal, social and familial growth. This was one of the toughest decisions I've made but the resurgence and unknown aspects of COVID-19 have raised serious health concerns that I do not feel comfortable competing in.
I'd like to thank the Connecticut Sun organization, my teammates and fans for their unwavering support and understanding. While I won't be competing this year I'm looking forward to lacing up with my teammates in 2021 and continuing the pursuit for a WNBA championship. Wishing the entire league and everyone involved a healthy and enjoyable season. Go Sun!
So far, Jones is by far the biggest name to opt out of the 2020 season, and is also the first player to do so because of the coronavirus. Veteran Atlanta Dream guard Renee Montgomery announced last week that she will skip the upcoming season to focus on fighting for social justice.
As Jones noted, coronavirus cases are currently surging in Florida, and the long-term affects are still unclear. Even with all the precautionary measures the WNBA will take, there's simply no way to guarantee everyone's health and safety. Judging by the fact that just 77 percent of the players voted to accept the WNBA's proposal, Jones may not be the last player we hear about sitting out.
From a basketball perspective, it goes without saying that this is a tremendous loss for the Sun. Jones averaged 14.6 points, 9.7 rebounds, 1.3 steals and two blocks per game last season, and finished third in the MVP voting. She led the Sun to the second-best regular season record at 23-11, and their first trip to the Finals since 2005.
Though they ultimately lost to the Washington Mystics in five games, the Sun were expected to once again compete for a title, especially after acquiring DeWanna Bonner and Briann January this offseason. While they'll still be a solid team, and a 22-game season could provide some strange results, their chances of winning the title this season just took a massive hit.