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What’s Going on with Maya Moore and the Lynx?

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Lynx drama in January!

Shockwaves rippled through the WNBA world Thursday as the Minnesota Lynx and general manager/head coach Cheryl Reeve issued a press release that featured a single sentence:

“We have been in close contact with Maya Moore and together, are deciding the best way to approach next season.”

The release comes on the heels of reporting by WCCO’s Mike Max that Lynx all star forward Maya Moore is considering not returning to the team for the 2019 WNBA season. Until further information is released by the team or Moore’s camp, Lynx fans are forced to speculate about the future of the team’s (and possibly the league’s) best player.

Since drafting Moore in 2011 the franchise has won championships every other summer. She’s one of the most accomplished players in the history of basketball, summiting peaks at every level of the game. Her list of accolades is long and well-known. All Moore does is win and for the first seven years of her professional career, that winning has taken place in Minnesota.

So after all the success and winning, why is there suddenly uncertainty around Moore and the Lynx?

The most likely answer is that she’s simply worn down. The life of a WNBA athlete, especially those in the upper echelon, can be a year-round, globetrotting hoops gauntlet. To make up for being underpaid domestically, the best women’s basketball players spend their winters in far off locations like Russia, China and Turkey to maximize their earning potential while they’re in the prime of their careers. Moore is no different and while she declined to play overseas this offseason, an extended break from basketball might be necessary. She spoke with ESPN’s Michelle Vopel in September and offered comments that support the idea that Moore needs a break.

“It’s been an interesting year,” said Moore who turned 29 in April. “I worked really hard, and I’m proud of everything I was able to give this year. But I’m definitely trying to get some rest, just recover and change the pace and get refreshed. I’m just trying to take advantage of being home for a little while. I’m taking time off; I don’t have any contracts overseas right now.”

Maya Moore has been given the “core” designation by the Lynx. The core system is designed to allow teams to keep their best players when they are free agents. The idea is very team-friendly and in the past has forced players like Elena Delle Donne and Sylvia Fowles to sit out in order to facilitate a trade to more appealing destinations. Some are speculating that the core designation may be at the heart of the issue here but reporting from the Star Tribune’s Kent Youngblood suggests otherwise.

“Multiple sources say Moore is not unhappy with the Lynx, which would appear to indicate she doesn’t want a trade. The story bubbled up just days after the Lynx put the franchise tag on Moore, preventing her from negotiating as a free agent with other teams, but all indications are that this is not a factor, either.”

Other than simply suiting up for the upcoming 2019 campaign, Lynx fans should hope Moore just needs a break from basketball. This type of “summer off” absence is not an unheard of move for high-end WNBA stars. Diana Taurasi sat out the 2015 season only to return to the Mercury in 2016. Angel McCoughtry and Candace Parker have also taken a season off in recent years.

The worst case scenario would be Moore wanting a chance of scenery and the ability to win elsewhere. Again this seems unlikely due to Moore’s relationship with Reeve as well as the Lynx standing as a world-class WNBA organization. Until we receive more information Lynx fans can only wait and hope that one of the best players in the world wants to stay in Minnesota.