Maya Moore announced she is sitting out the 2019 WNBA season, and it could have major implications on the league

  • Minnesota Lynx star Maya Moore announced that she has decided to sit out the upcoming WNBA season to spend time with her family and focus on religious pursuits.
  • Moore’s decision comes just days after the Lynx – who were ousted in the first round of last season’s playoffs -tagged her with a “core player” designation, which limits her to negotiating solely with the Lynx for her next contract.
  • The impact Moore’s hiatus will have on the WNBA cannot be understated, as she has been one of the brightest and most consistent stars in the league since her rookie season in 2011.
  • Much of the conversation in the aftermath of her announcement has surrounded the meager pay awarded to WNBA players, who often play overseas during the league’s offseason to make ends meet.

One of the WNBA’s brightest stars won’t be taking the court this season.

Five-time All-WNBA first team honoree Maya Moore will not join the Minnesota Lynx for the 2019 season. In an essay posted to The Players’ Tribune website Tuesday, Moore cited a desire to spend more time focused on family and faith as the reason for her hiatus, though many have speculated that team and labor issues may have factored into the decision as well.

Moore has helped the Lynx win four championships since her rookie year in 2011, but Minnesota failed to reach the WNBA finals for just the second time in her career this past season and she has been feuding with the franchise ever since.

Her announcement to take the 2019 season off comes just days after the Lynx tagged her with a “core player” designation, which limits her to negotiating with the Lynx for her next contract and prevents her from hitting the open market in free agency.

Moore has averaged 18.4 points and 5.9 rebounds per game in her career with the Lynx and has only missed a single game over her eight seasons in Minnesota, making her one of the brightest and most consistent stars in the league.

The Lynx will certainly feel the pain of Moore’s absence, but the effects of her departure from the team have deep implications beyond Minnesota and has sparked a conversation surrounding the meager pay awarded to even the brightest stars in the WNBA.

Moore is not the first star to take a break from the WNBA, as fellow big names such as Diana Taurasi, Candace Parker, Angel McCoughtry, and Emma Meesseman have all taken time away from the league during the course of their careers.

In order to make ends meet, many WNBA players choose to compete overseas during the WNBA offseason. And since they command much higher salaries in Europe, Asia, and Australia than they do in the WNBA, some of those players choose to forgo the WNBA season when they need a break. Prior to sitting out international competition in 2018, Moore has not enjoyed a true offseason since playing at UConn nine years ago.

Losing its elite players to mid-career hiatuses obviously does not bode well for the WNBA, which is already undergoing negotiations with the players’ union over their collective bargaining agreement.

The reality that players cannot make their primary income on WNBA salaries, combined with dissatisfaction with player treatment and rules such as the “core player” designation, prompted WNBA players to overwhelmingly vote in favor of opting out of their CBA back in November. That CBA, which was signed in 2014 and would have extended through the 2021 season, will now come to an end after the 2019 season.

The union and the league still have yet to come to an agreement regarding the stipulations of the new CBA, but they’ll need to have something in place prior to the 2020 season. Moore’s decision to opt out of the league for the year will certainly be a major talking point during these negotiations, but whether or not her absence will be enough to spur significant change remains to be seen.