Basketball

Liz Cambage and the Los Angeles Sparks Agree to a ‘Divorce’

The four-time WNBA All-Star Liz Cambage and the Los Angeles Sparks are parting methods, the newest thorny ending for the star heart who solely three months in the past confidently declared that the workforce was “the place I would like to be.”

On Tuesday, the Sparks introduced that they and Cambage, 30, had agreed to a “contract divorce” simply 5 months after the workforce added her to its roster. A 6-foot-8 Australian, she averaged 13 factors, 6.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 25 video games this season; she nonetheless holds the WNBA single-game scoring file with 53 factors.

“It was a shock – I did not know what actually escalated it,” Fred Williams, the workforce’s interim coach, mentioned at a media availability on Tuesday. “Plenty of it might have been issues off the court docket, off the flooring, who is aware of. Having conversations together with her afterwards, it simply felt it was good for her personally to make that transfer. All we will do as a company is help that and her selections and simply transfer on.”

For the workforce, he mentioned, “it is a new day, new environment, for us on this gymnasium.”

In a assertion saying the transfer, Eric Holoman, a managing companion for the Sparks, mentioned, “We need what’s finest for Liz and have agreed to half methods amicably.” A consultant for Cambage didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

Cambage’s departure is her third cut up with a WNBA workforce in 5 years. She additionally mentioned she has “zero” curiosity in taking part in once more for her residence nation. Cambage was accused of utilizing a racial slur towards opponents whereas taking part in for Australia in the lead-up to the Tokyo Olympics; she has denied the accusations.

Cambage, who grew up outdoors Melbourne, Australia, was drafted second total by the WNBA’s Tulsa Shock in 2011 as a cornerstone for the then-struggling franchise. She took a four-season hiatus from the league earlier than becoming a member of the workforce, which had relocated to Dallas and rebranded as the Wings. Cambage joined the Las Vegas Aces in 2019, however solely after demanding a commerce out of Dallas one 12 months into a multiyear contract.

Although Cambage sat out the 2020 season due to Covid-19 well being issues, she and the Aces made the WNBA semifinals in 2019 and 2021. She left the workforce as an unrestricted free agent after the 2021 season, however she did so with a parting shot by criticizing the WNBA’s pay construction when the Aces signed Becky Hammon as head coach for $1 million.

Cambage had lengthy set her sights on the Sparks. She joined the workforce as one among the league’s most seen — and at occasions polarizing — personalities, going to Los Angeles with a giant social media following and a type that packed a punch. Cambage has additionally been public about her troublesome psychological well being journey and therapy for melancholy, which she has mentioned contributed to her rocky begin with the Shock.

Cambage is signed to the expertise company IMG, has modeled sportswear for Adidas and is a model ambassador for Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty lingerie line. She can also be a DJ and is signed to Wasserman Music.

“I had been dwelling another person’s dream, chasing that for a minute,” she instructed The New York Times in May. “But now I’ve realized that this has at all times been my dream, being right here in LA and taking part in right here.”

The Sparks, who missed the WNBA playoffs final 12 months for the first time since 2011, added Cambage to a frontcourt that included Nneka Ogwumike and her sister Chiney, each former No. 1 total picks, in hopes of shifting into championship rivalry. The workforce (12-15) is in sixth place in the league.

Cambage, who mentioned she had not too long ago recovered from her third bout of Covid-19, was enduring the second-lowest scoring season of her WNBA profession. She was a part of a Sparks rebuild beneath Derek Fisher, the former NBA participant who was introduced on as common supervisor. But the Sparks fired Fisher in June and changed him with Williams, who additionally coached Cambage in Dallas.

“I’ve to respect what she needs,” Williams mentioned. “You have to pay attention as a result of it may very well be one thing else, may very well be one thing that is not associated to basketball.”

Williams mentioned he hopes Cambage has one other alternative to play.

“I feel she has room proper now to verify the temperature of herself,” he mentioned.

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