Last winter, Liz Cambage's return to the WNBA after multiple years away from the league dominated headlines. Now, the 2018 WNBA MVP runner-up appears to be set to dominate the offseason rumor mill yet again. Though this time, for a different reason.
The Wings announced on Tuesday afternoon that Cambage has requested a trade. It's a request the team intends to honor. Via Wings.WNBA.com:
Liz Cambage has communicated through her representation a desire to play elsewhere in the WNBA during the 2019 season. While Liz is currently under contract with the Dallas Wings, we will work to resolve this issue while keeping the interest of our organization the priority.
Originally drafted No. 2 overall in the 2011 WNBA Draft by the then-Tulsa Shock, the Australian Cambage was reluctant to move across the world to play in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Though she excelled in her first two seasons with the Shock in 2011 and 2013 -- she skipped the 2012 season due to the Olympics -- Cambage decided to leave the WNBA and return home.
But last season, the Wings, who still retained her rights, convinced her to return to the WNBA after five years away. As expected, Cambage dominated right from her first game. She averaged 23 points and 9.7 rebounds, set the WNBA single-game scoring record with 53 points against the New York Liberty and finished runner-up to the Seattle Storm's Breanna Stewart for WNBA MVP.
Cambage's personal success did not come without drama, however. The Wings struggled as a team, going just 15-19 on the season, and head coach Fred Williams was fired after an altercation with team executive Greg Bibb amid a nine-game losing streak. Additionally, Cambage noted that she wasn't sure if she wanted to return to the WNBA for the 2019 season over concerns about low pay and poor treatment of the players.
Now, Cambage apparently wants out of Dallas. And while requesting a trade means it's likely she'll finish up her contract and play this coming season, she's made it clear last summer that she isn't staying in the WNBA forever. Via ESPN:
"I've said this many times: [The WNBA] doesn't pay my bills ... playing here doesn't pay my bills," Cambage said. "We make more money overseas. I'm ready to have next summer off and focus on getting a European contract where its 10 seasons here worth the pay.
"It sucks because I love to be here, I love to put the game out there, I love what comes with playing here. But at the end of the day, for my longevity, I worry about my body, my mind and my soul. I really don't get paid enough to be beaten up every game. I'm not a WWE wrestler and that's how it feels sometimes out on the court."
With Skylar Diggins-Smith likely to miss most, if not all, of the 2019 season due to pregnancy, and Williams gone, it makes sense that Cambage wants out. The Wings are not going to be a good team, and Cambage would likely spend a miserable season dealing with double teams every single night. Considering her plans to leave the WNBA sooner rather than later, she appears eager to maximize her time in the league.
The big question, of course, is where to? Williams, who played a major role in convincing Cambage to return to the WNBA, was just named an assistant coach on Derek Fisher's staff with the Los Angeles Sparks. That seems like a logical destination, especially considering how Cambage could be the boost the Sparks' aging core needs to make another title run.
But Cambage is one of the best players in the league, so there figures to be plenty of teams in the mix to try and make a deal. Regardless, it will be fascinating to see where Cambage plays this season.