Seattle Storm star Lauren Jackson to miss 2013 WNBA season, center Ann Wauters not returning

After missing all of the 2012-132 WNBL season for the Canberra Capitals, Basketball Australia and the Seattle Storm confirmed that three-time WNBA MVP Lauren Jackson will not take the court during the 2013 season for the Storm.

Jackson battled a nagging hamstring injury this past year. She played in Spain playing for EuroLeague team Ros Casares Valencia before heading to Australia to prepare for the 2012 Olympics. She returned to Seattle after the London Games but was hampered by the injury. She underwent surgery in Australia and will recover there instead of returning to the U.S. Her 2013 contract was suspended but she is expected to play in 2014.

From the Storm:

The Seattle Storm announced today that Lauren Jackson will not compete with the team during the 2013 season. Jackson has chosen to remain in Australia to rehabilitate following her recent hamstring surgery. Her contract has been suspended and she is expected to play for the Storm in 2014.

In addition, the Storm announced that center Ann Wauters will not return. She has chosen to spend the summer resting and with her family and does not plan to participate in the WNBA in 2013.

“We support Lauren’s decision to take time off and let her body fully recover,” said Storm Head Coach and General Manager Brian Agler. “Lauren is the best player in the world at her position so it will be impossible to replace her but we are moving forward. We also truly appreciate the time and effort Ann and her family gave to the Storm in 2012. She is a fantastic person and great player. We wish her the best of luck in the future.

“We are focused on free agency and preparing for the 2013 season,” Agler continued. “I’m confident in our coaching staff and our players that we will compete each and every night out. The Western Conference will be as competitive as it’s ever been and we expect to be right in the thick of things.”

“While it’s heartfelt and disappointing for me not to be joining my teammates in Seattle for the coming season,” Jackson said, “I have to be fair to the club and give them enough time to prepare for my absence this season and make the best decision for all concerned. Although my surgery has been successful and post-operative medical opinion is that I will make a full recovery, clearly I was not going to be fit, ready or confident for the demands of the WNBA season. The Seattle Storm have been so supportive to me over many seasons, it’s only fair I give them the best possible opportunity and time to prepare for this coming season. My main and only focus at the moment is to get my body right through fitness, strength and skills. After that I will look at my options and an on court plan that best suits me for the future as I want to play on for some time yet.”

The Storm roster now stands at nine players.

From the WNBL’s announcement:

Following a recent post-operative review, Jackson is expected to make a full recovery. However, as a result of the injury, she has also been unable to take the court for the Canberra Capitals during the 2012/13 WNBL season.

She will remain under contract to play for the Storm during the 2014 WNBA season, and has reiterated her intent to play with the team during that season.

Jackson thanked the Storm for their continued support since 2001, indicating that she had made the decision now to give the team the best possible opportunity to prepare for the upcoming season.

“I’m so pleased with the medical view that I will make a full recovery, but I know I have to be patient and not rush the process,” Ms Jackson said.

“My main and only focus at the moment is to get back to my physical best through fitness, strength and skills.

“After that, I’ll look at my options and an on court plan that best suits me for the future as I want to play on for some time yet.”

Basketball Australia’s Chief Executive Officer Kristina Keneally said BA stood behind Lauren’s decision, and would support her through the rehabilitation process however necessary.

“Lauren is one of the biggest names in our sport and an asset to basketball worldwide, so I’ve got no doubt fans both here and in the United States are eager to see her back in action,” Ms Keneally said.

“But it makes sense for her to take the advice of her medical team and put her body first – her health and well-being are rightly top priority here.

“We want to ensure that Lauren’s recovery is thorough and every precautionary measure is taken in order to get her back to playing at an elite level for a sustainable period of time.”

Jackson started 2012 with a grueling session in Spain playing for Ros Casares Valencia in the Spanish League Championship and the 2012 Euroleague.

Despite sustaining her hamstring injury while playing with the Australian Opals in the Czech Republic last June, Jackson went on to play with the team during the Farewell Series in Melbourne and then the 2012 London Olympics, where the Opals took bronze.

Following the Olympics, Jackson also returned to the US to play with the Storm for the remainder of the 2012 WNBA season, before returning to Canberra to assess the extent of her injury.

Jackson’s hamstring injury did not respond to a range of treatments over several months and in the end required surgery which revealed several problems, later corrected by Dr David Young in Melbourne.

Lauren has commenced a light rehabilitation program and with continued improvement, expects to be running in the next few weeks.

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