Minnesota Lynx superstar Maya Moore will sit out the 2019 WNBA season.
After weeks of vague rumors regarding the former MVP, Moore announced in The Players' Tribune on Tuesday afternoon that she will be taking a break from basketball in order to focus on herself, her family and her ministry.
My announcement is about how I'm shifting the focus to the whatever.
My focus in 2019 will not be on professional basketball, but will instead be on the people in my family, as well as on investing my time in some ministry dreams that have been stirring in my heart for many years.
I will certainly miss the day-to-day relationships with my teammates and basketball family this season, but my no for the 2019 pro season allows me to say yes to my family and faith family like I never have before.
Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve, who has won four titles with Moore and coached her for her entire career, issued a statement about her star's decision. Via WNBA.com:
"As she recently shared, Maya has expressed a need to shift her attention more fully to family and ministry dreams in a way that she has been unable to as a professional basketball player. We support her in this exploration and will continue to provide her the love and care she has always known from her Lynx family."
While there is a period of shock any time a WNBA star announces they'll be taking a year off from the league, Moore's decision isn't all that surprising. Due to the low pay and short season, a majority of WNBA players go overseas to play in Europe, Asia or Australia during the winter season, which results in them playing year round.
After nearly a decade of doing so, it's reasonable that Moore is burnt out and wants to take a break from basketball. Not only will it allow her to reset and focus on other things that are important to her, but it also gives her body a chance to rest -- something it hasn't had since she was in college.
Moore is not the first WNBA star to take a break after years and years of carrying their teams, both in the WNBA and overseas. In 2015, Diana Taurasi took the entire season off, while Candace Parker rested for four months. Most recently, we've seen Angel McCoughtry sit out the 2017 season and Emma Meesseman rest for all of the 2018 campaign.
That elite players sitting out has become commonplace is obviously not a good thing for the league, but it is an unfortunate reality for the players right now. Due to how much money they make overseas, it makes far more sense to sit out the WNBA season.
For the Lynx, this is a tough blow for this season, especially as they were already set for a period of transition. From the time Moore arrived in Minnesota, the team had gone to at least the semi-final round of the playoffs in every single year, and won four titles -- until last season. With an aging core, they went just 18-16, and were bounced in the first round of the playoffs by the Los Angeles Sparks.
Longtime point guard Lindsay Whalen retired to coach the University of Minnesota women's basketball team and five-time champion Rebekkah Brunson may retire as well. And though Seimone Augustus re-signed, it was clear things were going to be different around the Target Center -- even if Moore had returned.
With Augustus, newly signed wing Karima Christmas-Kelly and perennial MVP and Defensive Player of the Year candidate Sylva Fowles down low, there's enough talent on the roster that they shouldn't be terrible, but they definitely won't be contending this season.