Aces coach Bill Laimbeer said Wednesday he was happy to see that Las Vegas center Liz Cambage has signed to play in Australia this year.
Laimbeer said Cambage originally wasn’t planning to play overseas this year, but her decision will have no bearing on her WNBA future.
“This is the same thing as all of the players who play overseas. Their season is opposite of ours,” Laimbeer said. “We’re very happy she’s going to play. She wasn’t going to play overseas for various reasons, but being able to play in Australia keeps her safe and gets her some basketball court time.”
Basketball Australia announced Tuesday that the 6-foot-8-inch Cambage signed a contract to play with the Southside Flyers in the Women’s National Basketball League in Australia, scheduled to begin in November.
Cambage was an All-Star and second-team All-WNBA performer who averaged 15.9 points and 8.2 rebounds last season, her first with the Aces.
Without Cambage, the Aces are 8-3 in the shortened 22-game season in the WNBA bubble at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. They had their seven-game winning streak snapped in an 84-82 loss to the Chicago Sky on Tuesday and will look to start another one when they meet the Connecticut Sun at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Cambage was listed as a protected player who was at risk of severe illness if she contracted COVID-19 by the Aces’ team doctor in June. The WNBA’s independent panel of doctors didn’t challenge the ruling, which gave her a medical exemption that will allow her to receive her full salary for this season.
She signed a one-year contract with the Aces in April, and it’s valid because of the medical exemption. But general manager Dan Padover said the team wants her back.
“Obviously, we will re-sign her,” he said. “(Cambage’s situation) is just like if she were to have a season-ending injury. It’s nothing the player did wrong. It’s a medical thing.”
Cambage said she thinks she contracted the coronavirus in December while playing in China. She said in March she was hospitalized and so weak she couldn’t walk.
Las Vegas signed center Avery Warley-Talbert and forward Megan Huff to fill Cambage’s roster spot, but both have been waived.
“Adding somebody right now is tough,” Laimbeer said. “I’m not sure if it’s trades or adding a player off the street, but that’s one of our goals before hopefully we make the playoffs. I think we need a big. We need one more that can get out there and buy some minutes for some of the players we’re spending too many minutes on right now.”
Carolyn Swords is the only active center on the roster. In her ninth season, the 6-6 Swords has started each game and logged career highs of 18.0 minutes and 5.3 rebounds per game.
The Aces have limited size behind Swords and 6-4 power forward A’ja Wilson, but they lead the league in rebounding with 36.5 per game. Still, they’re looking for depth.
“We’re looking for the best possible role player we can find for that spot,” Padover said. “We need a dependable player come playoff time. We haven’t found it yet, and we’re not going to settle. All credit to the players who have come in, but we haven’t found what we’re looking for yet.”
Aces game day
Who: Aces (8-3) vs. Sun (5-7)
When: 7 p.m. Thursday
Where: IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla.
TV: CBS Sports Network
About the Aces: Las Vegas had a seven-game winning streak snapped with an 84-82 loss to Chicago on Tuesday. A’ja Wilson has scored in double figures in every game and averages 19.5 points and 8.5 rebounds, but has struggled to find the range in her past two games, shooting 7-for-25 from the field. Angel McCoughtry (15.5), Dearica Hamby (11.8), Kayla McBride (10.6) and Jackie Young (10.1) are also scoring in double figures.
About the Sun: Connecticut started 0-5 in large part to star center Jonquel Jones having opted out and a rugged schedule. The Sun have won five of their past seven since. Versatile threat DeWanna Bonner was Connecticut’s major offseason acquisition and leads the team in scoring (19.o ppg) and is second in rebounding (7.8 ppg). Forward Alyssa Thomas averages 13.8 points and a WNBA-best 9.3 rebounds.