UPDATE: Washington Mystics General Manager and Head Coach Mike Thibault tweeted a statement regarding the Elena Delle Donne and Tina Charles news.
Hey Mystics fans. Elena and Tina are not sick. Because of their past medical histories, they are being evaluated by an independent panel of doctors to determine their risk for playing this summer.— Mike Thibault (@coachthibault) July 9, 2020
I don’t think that I implied that Delle Donne and/or Tina Charles are sick (which can mean having the coronavirus). But it is possible that a board of independent doctors may claim that Delle Donne and/or Charles are at higher risk of complications if they get the coronavirus. And despite that kind of a declaration, Delle Donne and/or Charles may decide to play anyway. But it’s still important to note that there’s a good chance they may not play this season.
As I have stated multiple times regarding the coronavirus and professional basketball, it’s better that players, teams and leagues take a “safety first” approach, in particular since the United States has done a poor job managing it, at least in my opinion. I said that in an open letter to WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver last May. And right now, it’s just not a good look that any American sports league is in Florida, a coronavirus hotspot at the moment.
The original article is below.
The Washington Mystics are now in Bradenton, Florida where they will soon start training camp the 2020 WNBA season later this month.
That said, they went to Florida without Elena Delle Donne and Tina Charles. Both Delle Donne and Charles have applied for medical excuses for the 2020 WNBA season due to the coronavirus pandemic, and are in “medical protocol,” according to a team release.
If they are given medical excuses by an independent panel of doctors, then they will get paid their full salaries and do not have to play this season. Doug Feinberg of the Associated Press was among the first to announce the news.
So @De11eDonne and @tinacharles31 are waiting for decisions from the @WNBA panel of independent doctors to get medically excused.— Doug Feinberg (@DougFeinberg) July 8, 2020
If @De11eDonne and @tinacharles31 get approved by the panel and don't end up playing this season, @WashMystics won't be able to sign replacements because of the salary cap.— Doug Feinberg (@DougFeinberg) July 8, 2020
As Feinberg mentioned in the second tweet, Delle Donne and/or Charles could get a medical excuse and still play for the Mystics. But I find that unlikely, especially in Delle Donne’s case. She has Lyme Disease and is at higher risk of complications should she get the coronavirus.
If Delle Donne and Charles sit out the 2020 WNBA season, it would effectively end Washington’s hopes of a championship repeat. The Mystics only have ten players in Bradenton, and would lean heavily on Emma Meesseman and Aerial Powers to guide them through the regular season. I still think they’ll make the playoffs without Delle Donne and Charles, but the Mystics would just not have the depth that last year’s team did, especially if they can’t play this season.
We will update this story as we learn more.