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Gabby Williams says WNBA prioritization rule is ‘ridiculous’

(Steve Christo/Corbis via Getty Images)

Gabby Williams is not a fan of the WNBA’s new prioritization rule.

Under the new rule, players must complete offseason play before the opening day of the WNBA season. Williams played with French club ASVEL through May, and while some international leagues adjusted their timelines to fit the WNBA’s rule, the French league did not.

Williams managed to sidestep the prioritization restrictions by breaking her contract with ASVEL a few days early, just before the start of the WNBA regular season on May 19. That technicality allowed her to rejoin the Seattle Storm earlier this week, signing a deal for the rest of 2023. She had sustained a concussion during the French league playoffs, which kept her off the court for the start of the WNBA season and contributed to the early end to her ASVEL contract.

“I still think the prioritization thing is ridiculous. I’m sorry, I’ll say it. Like literally, I’m only here because I got concussed,” Williams told reporters Wednesday. “Something has to give. France needs to have shorter seasons, or the WNBA needs to (allow players) to make money and do both. And no, this doesn’t give me any hope that I can do both.”

The recovery from her concussion was a process, Williams noted. While she initially tried to play through symptoms, a specialist forced her to shut down for three weeks. Eventually, she eased back into basketball activities. From there, she began to think about the WNBA.

“As I started to feel better, the competitiveness to come back started to come back,” Williams said. “Because at first I was like, ‘I don’t want to even think about basketball for a while.’ Once I started getting back into shape and everything and feeling good, I was just like, ‘All right, I miss my girls. I miss my team, I miss Seattle,’ so that kind of was the motivation to get back.”

And while Williams missed out on winning the French league championship with ASVEL and a third-place EuroBasket finish with France, Williams knows that “everything happens for a reason” and is looking at the concussion as a silver lining, she said.

She also views her Storm return as an opportunity to help the team win more games.

“I feel like this team has all pieces,” she said. “I just feel so happy to be back. Of course I was really, really disappointed missing the (French league) final, but seeing that the girls were able to do it and finish it is obviously a relief. I’m just happy we won. … Mentally it was really, really, really hard knowing that I was going to be missing Euros, but just being back and back in this environment. … I just couldn’t be happier.”