Free agent Jackson still thinking about her options
SEATTLE -- When winter truly begins to move in on Moscow a few months from now, Lauren Jackson will start thinking about her pending free agency in the WNBA.
Until then, the two-time league MVP would like a mental break.
"There's a lot of things to consider right now. I just need some time to breathe and really figure out what I want to do," Jackson said Thursday.
The Seattle Storm star will be an unrestricted free agent for the first time in her WNBA career this offseason. She has played her entire career in the United States with the Storm, yet was noncommittal about anything except honoring her contract to play in Russia this winter.
If Jackson had any question about the Storm's desire to bring her back in 2009, coach Brian Agler definitively put that to rest soon before Jackson spoke. Agler even joked about setting up an office in Moscow this winter to help get Jackson back to Seattle.
"I'm going to approach the recruitment of Lauren Jackson how I would approach getting ready for a season," Agler said. "We're going to be aggressive, we're going to be proactive and she is going to have a good feel of how much myself and [CEO] Karen [Bryant] and her teammates, but also how the fans and the organization want her in Seattle and need her in Seattle."
Jackson will soon return to her native Australia for a few weeks of rest and rehab, still trying to recuperate from right ankle surgery following the Olympics. The surgery kept Jackson a spectator as the Storm lost to the Los Angeles Sparks in the first round of the playoffs earlier this week.
After some time at home, Jackson will leave for Russia and spend the winter months making the majority of her income playing for Spartak in Moscow, on a loaded team that includes Seattle teammate Sue Bird and Phoenix's Diana Taurasi. Spartak's first game is scheduled for Oct. 16, and Jackson thinks she'll be able to play a few minutes.
By December, when WNBA teams can begin talking with free agents, Jackson believes she'll have a pretty good idea of her plans: re-sign with Seattle; try out a new WNBA team; or take some time off.
"December, January, I'll have a really good feel of how my body is responding to this latest surgery and how I feel about taking time off or not taking time off and what I want to do," Jackson said.
Jackson had surgery following the Olympics after a bone spur broke off from her ankle and lodged in some scar tissue, making it almost impossible to walk. Jackson said Thursday she initially aggravated the ankle during training with the Australia national team, then felt sharp pain in her ankle after landing from a layup during a game.
Jackson needed injections just to walk around, making her performance in helping Australia to the silver medal in Beijing even more impressive. But she realized midway through the Olympics that surgery was the only option.
"I'm very patriotic to my country, and I wouldn't have missed [the Olympics] for anything in the world, so I don't regret what I did for one second," Jackson said.
Jackson's surgery, which took place in Sydney on Aug. 28, all but ended the Storm's championship hopes. Jackson's absence was truly noted against Los Angeles in Game 3, when the Storm had no one who could slow down rookie star Candace Parker.
Jackson never played for the Storm after July 12 but averaged 20.2 points in her 22 games this season.
"The very first minute we're able to engage in material discussions with her, we'll be right there," Bryant said. "I think it's really important for us to send as strong a message as we can. No organization is in a better position to demonstrate her value to the organization and our community than Seattle. I think that will pay huge dividends."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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