The New York Liberty will be without Betnijah Laney for at least eight weeks after she underwent meniscus surgery, the team announced on Wednesday. Further updates on her rehab status will be provided as necessary.
"We miss a lot [when she's not on the floor]," Liberty coach Sandy Brondello said prior to the team's game against the Indiana Fever. "To win in this league, you need your superstars to be great. It's unfortunate, but it's part of the sport... in the meantime, we go out there and compete."
Already off to a rough start this season, Laney's injury is the last thing the Liberty needed. They entered Wednesday on a seven-game losing streak that is the longest by any team in the league this season. As a result, they sit in last place and have a minus-17.7 net rating that would be the second-worst in league history.
Laney, who won Most Improved Player in 2020 with the Atlanta Dream, was a marquee free-agent signing for the Liberty in 2021. Though she wasn't off to a great start this season, she was still the team's leading scorer at 13.3 points per game, while adding 3.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists. Her ability to create shots, both for herself and her teammates, will be sorely missed on a team that struggles on offense even in the best of times.
The reigning Rookie of the Year, Michaela Onyenwere, noted that Laney's intangibles will be missed as well over the next few months.
"She brings a level of leadership," Onyenwere said. "She sees the floor, the game, holds us accountable...we have to step up. Injuries happen, unfortunately...of course, we miss her leadership, but we have to step up."
Onyenwere has seen increased playing time in recent games with Laney out and will continue to have more opportunities. As will Crystal Dangerfield, who the Liberty recently signed on a hardship contract. Though not the same type of player, Dangerfield offers some much-needed playmaking.