Australian Liz Cambage has ended almost a year of speculation on her potential return to the WNBA, today announced as signing with the Dallas Wings on a multi-year deal. As is commonplace across the WNBA, the details--including the length--of her contract were not disclosed.
The 6'8 centre joins the Wings after a 5 years hiatus since last playing in the WNBA with the Tulsa shock. Cambage spent parts of two seasons in Tulsa in 2011 and again in 2013, earning WNBA All-Rookie Team honors in 2011, while averaging 13.3 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game across 53 games.
Since Cambage's brief tenure in the WNBA, she went on to dominate the Women's Chinese Basketball Association, earning All-Chinese Player of the Year in 2016. She returned to the WNBL for the 2017-18 season where she went close to helping the Melbourne Boomers win the championship while averaging a league-best 23.1 points and 10.5 rebounds per game, ultimately going down to the Townsville Fire. She also finished runner-up to the Fire's Suzy Batkovic for the MVP award.
Widely regarded as being one of the best centres in world basketball, the Wings are looking forward to bolstering their roster with Cambage.
"Liz is one of the best players in the world and her return to our organization will greatly improve our basketball team," said Wings President and CEO Greg Bibb in the official release.
"Her offensive ability will add another dimension to Coach Williams’ fast-paced, high-scoring brand of basketball, while her size and defensive presence will greatly improve our ability to protect the rim and rebound on the defensive end of the court. We are thrilled to have Liz back in the WNBA and wearing a Dallas Wings uniform."
It was a sentiment shared by Wings head coach Fred Williams.
"Liz is a triple-threat player who can shoot, pass and defend inside the paint extremely well," said Williams. "She will provide a strong inside-out threat that I think will be very exciting for our fans and the league, but she’s also a great addition to the culture we’ve built the last few years in Dallas. I can’t wait to start the 2018 season with the team we’ve put together."
As a 20-year-old, Cambage gained worldwide attention by becoming the first woman to dunk at the Olympic Games, helping Australia earn bronze in London. However she has experienced her fair share of problems and public ridicule on and off the court since that time, including for what has long been viewed as her avoidance in making a return to the WNBA, the best women's league in the world.
Cambage attended a music festival instead of an Opals training camp in 2015 ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympics, and what followed included a long-standing public feud with fellow Australian basketball star Andrew Bogut that has played out on social media. In addition, she has widely drawn criticism, whether fair or not, for being a difficult player to coach while choosing to play in China--on big contracts--rather than playing in the WNBA. During her long-waited return to the WNBL this past season, she also drew further criticism after she was charged for multiple reportable offences for which included a 1-game suspension, and her petulant behaviour displayed on court at times had cause for many to question her status as being a role model for children.
Yet for all the criticism Cambage has received, one thing is not in question; her potential to be one of the world's best and most dominant players.
Her return to the WNBA gives her an opportunity to prove she has what it takes to match it with the world's best players, and perhaps in time, go a long way to silencing her critics.
Dallas will officially introduce Cambage at a press conference scheduled for February 26.
George traded to the Sun
In another Australian WNBA news, Cayla George was traded by the Phoenix Mercury to the Connecticut Sun in exchange for the 21st pick (second round) in the 2018 WNBA Draft.
George played an integral role for the 2018 WNBL Champion Townsville Fire, averaging 10.5 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. She has played the past two years with the Phoenix Mercury, averaging 4.2 points and 2.9 rebounds and appeared in 66 of the possible 68 regular season games for which she was available.
Whitcomb re-signs with Storm
After recently becoming an Australian citizen, Perth Lynx superstar Sami Whitcomb this week signed a multi-year contract extension with the Seattle Storm after averaging 17.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game for the Perth Lynx during the 2017/18 WNBL season that saw her named to the All-Star Five for the third-straight year.
During her 2017 rookie campaign with the Storm, Whitcomb averaged 4.5 points and 1.7 rebounds in just over 12 minutes per game. She also drained 6 three-pointers in the final 12 minutes of the game on her way to 22 points to facilitate a come-from-behind victory over New York. Her 6 three’s set a franchise record for triples in a half, which tied Diana Taurasi’s WNBA record.