The Washington Mystics are in a tough situation. They already won’t have Natasha Cloud and LaToya Sanders this season. And they traveled to Bradenton, Florida earlier this week with Elena Delle Donne and Tina Charles possibly sitting out the year as well due to medical conditions.
In a call with the media today, Washington Mystics General Manager and Head Coach Mike Thibault announced that Delle Donne and Charles are in a medical protocol waiting to hear on whether they get an exemption from playing in the 2020 season.
If they can get an exemption, then it is up to them as to whether they actually opt out. And if they opt out, the Mystics cannot sign additional players, at least right away because they are at the salary cap. Thibault called the situation a “triple whammy” because of the salary cap situation, their possible absences and getting a year of service. It is possible that Delle Donne and/or Charles forgo part or all of their salaries which could allow the team to sign more players.
Furthermore, there is no timetable on when a decision regarding medical exemptions will be reached.
Though the Mystics are in an uncertain period regarding their frontcourt, Thibault is still excited about coaching this year’s team. Thibault mentioned that Emma Meesseman should be able to re-establish her place in the league after seeing her playing time and role decline last year. Aerial Powers and Ariel Atkins will get to enjoy larger roles on the perimeter. Myisha Hines-Allen and Tianna Hawkins will get more playing time and show their potential, especially if Delle Donne and Charles don’t play.
And Kiara Leslie, the team’s first round pick from 2019 missed the season due to injury, but she will get her shot in what is effectively her rookie season.
The Mystics have often punched above their weight, and there’s no reason why 2020 can’t be more of the same.
Finally, Thibault also mentioned the team’s accommodations while in the WNBA’s bubble. Unlike some players who voiced their frustrations on social media, Thibault said only one player had a problem with a shower, and that he would rather try to solve a problem internally first. In addition, Thibault wanted the team to take things into perspective saying that “they are paid to play a kids game” while many others are trying to get to work. And the WNBA is getting back to work.
Training camp is expected to begin tomorrow. Given that the team is shorthanded, it is possible that they may hold scrimmages and practices with other teams, including the Indiana Fever. The Fever are coached by Marianne Stanley, who was an assistant on last year’s Mystics team.