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Washington Mystics guard Natasha Cloud had a bone to pick with the WNBA defensive award selections, and she set off a chain reaction of grievances from coaches and players across the league.

Cloud took exception to WNBA awards voting after being shut out for the Defensive Player of the Year award and the all-defensive team selections.

“Voting for this league is a joke,” Cloud wrote on social media in a now-deleted post, before alluding to awards voting boiling down to politics in another post.

Mystics head coach Eric Thibault also weighed in, calling Cloud’s absence “hard to understand.”

“Removing positions for the All-Defense teams is mostly to blame,” he wrote. “Stats are how people largely vote on/explain these awards, and that means steals, blocks, and rebounds. Two of those three immediately skew towards bigs.

Los Angeles Sparks guard Lexie Brown had a similar thought, asking on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter: “What do guards need to do more to be considered elite defenders?”

Chicago Sky guard Courtney Williams proposed a change to the voting pool. A national panel of 60 sportswriters and broadcasters voted on the Defensive Player of the Year award and the all-defensive teams, but Williams would prefer voters from within the league itself.

“Yeah they should let players and coaches vote on these awards,” Williams wrote on X. “It’s just different having to scout and play against it night in and night out.”

After the kerfuffle over the defensive awards, Chicago Sky forward Isabelle Harrison looked forward to the announcement of the 2023 WNBA MVP, which is set for Tuesday. Connecticut Sun forward Alyssa Thomas, New York Liberty forward Breanna Stewart and Las Vegas Aces forward A’ja Wilson are the front-runners for the award.

“Before MVP is announced, trust me when I say, if (Alyssa Thomas) doesn’t win IMO, the credibility of this award tremendously drops,” she wrote on X. “Obviously no disrespect to others considered for it but plz plz plzzzz respect the year she’s having.”

As the 2023 WNBA playoffs begin, teams are still dealing with a number of injuries. Take the Washington Mystics, who will be without Shakira Austin for the first two games of their first-round series against the New York Liberty.

Just Women’s Sports is keeping tabs on the most notable WNBA injuries and, where possible, providing the timetable for the player’s return. This report also includes athletes who are missing the 2023 WNBA season due to pregnancy or maternity leave.

Injured WNBA players who could return this season

Shakira Austin, Washington Mystics

Second-year center Shakira Austin went down on June 25 with a hip strain. An MRI revealed that the injury doesn’t require surgery, but she missed nearly two months as a result.

Austin returned in mid-August in a win over Chicago but has remained limited in her minutes. Weeks later against the Aces, she re-injured the hip that had kept her out nearly two months. She will miss at least the first two games of the Mystics’ first-round series against the New York Liberty.

Candace Parker, Las Vegas Aces

The two-time WNBA MVP will be out indefinitely after undergoing surgery to repair a left foot fracture, the Las Vegas Aces announced in July.

Parker has been playing on the fracture all season, according to the team, but a recent consultation with doctors revealed that surgery was the best option to return to health and to avoid further injury.

After signing with Las Vegas in the offseason, Parker started the first 18 games of the season for the Aces, averaging 9.0 points per game.

WNBA players who have returned to the court

Elena Delle Donne, Washington Mystics

The two-time WNBA MVP injured her left ankle on July 9, but she returned on Aug. 18. The 33-year-old started this season fully healthy for the first time in almost three years after dealing with back issues that kept her sidelined for a significant amount of time.

NaLyssa Smith, Indiana Fever

A stress fracture in her left foot was expected to keep the 22-year-old forward out for at least two weeks, the Fever announced on July 11.

Smith made her returned on Aug. 8 and has been instrumental for Indiana since then, including a career-high 30 points in the team’s overtime win over Dallas on Sunday.

Layshia Clarendon, Los Angeles Sparks

Clarendon returned on July 22, appearing for the first time since June 9. A partial tear of the right plantar fascia ligament in their foot had kept Clarendon off the floor.

Brittney Griner, Phoenix Mercury

Brittney Griner had been out since June 13 with a hip injury but made her return against the Storm on June 24, putting up 11 points and 6 rebounds through 20 minutes.

Ruthy Hebard, Chicago Sky

Hebard gave birth to her son, Xzavier Reid, in April. The Chicago Sky forward returned just 12 weeks later.

“All this has just shown me how much I love the game,” Hebard said one week before making her return on July 9. “I love being around my teammates. I just love everything about basketball. More than anything, I just want to be back.”

Aari McDonald, Atlanta Dream

The 24-year-old guard tore her labrum against the Las Vegas Aces on June 2, the Dream announced on June 6. She returned to action on July 20.

Diamond Miller, Minnesota Lynx

The No. 2 overall pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft sprained her right ankle during Minnesota’s loss to the Dallas Wings on May 30. In a statement, the Lynx said Miller will “be reevaluated in the following weeks and further updates will be issued when available.” Miller scored a career-high 18 points in her return on June 27.

Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury

The Mercury also went without Diana Taurasi (hamstring) through three games (all double-digit losses). Taurasi returned on June 24, playing 19 minutes and putting up 13 points and 4 rebounds against Seattle.

Injured WNBA players out for the season

Brionna Jones, Connecticut Sun

The Connecticut Sun announced on June 24 that Brionna Jones suffered a ruptured right Achilles tendon in a game against the Seattle Storm on June 20 and underwent a successful surgery on June 23.

“While this is not how I envisioned this season ending for me, I am determined and ready to head into the next stage of recovery and rehab. I know I have an amazing support system behind me, and I will return on the other side of this stronger than ever,” Jones said in a statement.

Prior to the injury, Jones was first in the league in offensive rebounds (3.2/game), fifth in steals (1.8), and ninth in field goal percentage (57.1).

“We are heartbroken for Breezy. Anyone who knows her, knows she’s an amazing person, teammate and leader for our group,” said Connecticut Sun head coach Stephanie White.

“On the court, she has worked so hard to position herself as a cornerstone of our franchise and was playing terrific basketball. … As a team, we know we have a job to do, and we will dedicate our work toward the ultimate goal of winning a championship in a way that honors Breezy.”

Diamond DeShields, Dallas Wings

DeShields missed the regular season with a knee injury, and she remain out for the postseason.

While the 28-year-old guard appeared in a May 5 preseason game against Chicago, she did not travel for the team’s second preseason game out of precaution due to knee soreness. It’s unclear when she could make a return this season.

Rebekah Gardner, Chicago Sky

Gardner will miss the playoffs for Chicago. She missed most of the season after undergoing foot surgery for the break she sustained during a loss to the Washington Mystics on May 26.

Isabelle Harrison, Chicago Sky

The 29-year-old forward missed the season with a knee injury. The Sky revealed in May that Harrison would be out indefinitely after having surgery to repair a torn left meniscus. Harrison, who signed as a free agent with Chicago in February, has played six seasons in the WNBA.

Li Yueru, Chicago Sky

Li will miss the season with a non-WNBA injury, the Sky announced on May 18. She played for Chicago last season but missed the postseason to prepare for the 2022 World Cup with the Chinese national team.

Lou Lopez Sénéchal, Dallas Wings

The former UConn star underwent knee surgery during the first week of the season and missed the season as a result. The 25-year-old wing was the No. 5 overall pick in the 2023 draft.

Stephanie Talbot, Los Angeles Sparks

The 28-year-old forward signed with the Sparks in the offseason but tore her Achilles while playing for the Adelaide Lightning in Australia in February.

Kristi Toliver, Washington Mystics

The 36-year-old guard suffered a torn ACL in early September, which will sideline for the 2023 playoffs.

“I’m not going to lie: Emotionally, I’m shocked,” the Mystics’ Elena Delle Donne said. “You try to do the whole thing where you want to rally for [Toliver], but we were sick. Just sick. What she’s been through with her foot, how much she’s worked to get back — and she’s feeling good. She’s talking about even next year and all those things. To see something like that happen at this point in her career, it just sucks. … She’s such a great person. So it’s brutal.”

WNBA players out due to pregnancy or childbirth

Natalie Achonwa, Minnesota Lynx

Achonwa gave birth to her first child, son Maverick, in April and missed the WNBA season on maternity leave.

Achonwa, a member of the WNBA players’ union executive committee, helped negotiate for many of the pregnancy protections and maternity benefits that were included in the league’s 2020 collective bargaining agreement.

“Previously if you were out on maternity leave you’d get fifty per cent of your base salary,” Achonwa told SportsNet.

“I will receive my full salary this year whether I’m able to make it back or not — so pending clearance from doctors and trainers and stuff like that to see if I will make it back by the end of the year — but knowing that my family will be taken care of financially while I’m out on maternity leave was huge.”

Skylar Diggins-Smith, Phoenix Mercury

Diggins-Smith is out on maternity leave after giving birth to her second child during the WNBA offseason and her return timeline is unclear.

“I’m not really worried about snapping back,” she recently told Essence. “I just want to enjoy this time with my daughter.”

Katie Lou Samuelson, Los Angeles Sparks

Samuelson welcomed a baby girl in August, and her pregnancy kept out of the 2023 season. The 25-year-old forward averaged 9.7 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 29.5 minutes per game in 2022.

“Life is full of surprises and 2023 surprised us in the best way possible!” she wrote in a social media announcement of her pregnancy. “We can’t wait to welcome the newest member of our family!”

Emma Hruby and Alex Azzi contributed to this report. 

Isabelle Harrison struck a pose in front of a chartered jet, posting the image to her Twitter account Monday with the message, “Thank you Cathy Engelbert.”

The Dallas Wings star had tweeted a day earlier asking the WNBA commissioner for a charter plane after the team’s commercial flight was canceled. Harrison’s follow-up tweet seems to indicate that she got her wish.

Dallas is in the midst of a heated playoff battle with the Connecticut Sun, with both teams traveling to Dallas for Wednesday’s decisive Game 3 in their first-round series.

The WNBA already has committed to providing charter flights for the WNBA Finals, but did not make the same promise for the opening two rounds of the postseason. With the league adopting a new three-game first-round format rather than single elimination games, postseason travel arrangements have become a hot topic.

Voices advocating for private travel arrangements have grown louder over the 2022 WNBA season, with COVID-19 exposure and airline delays impacting teams across the league.

WNBA Players Association president Nneka Ogwumike spoke out on the issue in August after the Los Angeles Sparks’ flight from Washington D.C. was delayed, forcing her team to spend the night in Dulles Airport.

“‘Competitive advantage’ is a tired argument that has overstayed its welcome. It has become a phrase that impedes transformational growth across our league,” Ogwumike said in a statement released through the WNBPA. “The numbers and the trends suggest that The W is a smart investment with a measurable return. New and emerging ownership groups have demonstrated an ability and eagerness to invest the necessary resources to grow this league in the areas that require it most.”

The league has punished teams for opting to charter their own flights, citing unfair competitive advantage. The New York Liberty were fined last season after owners Joe and Clara Tsai chartered flights for players to and from games in violation of the CBA.

Dallas Wings forward Isabelle Harrison continued to air her frustration with Vickie Johnson via social media Tuesday, posting a TikTok in which she questioned the coach’s play calls.

The video showed Harrison underneath the text, “When coach only calls plays for the guards.” The caption read, “like damnnnn i dont want to just rebound.” The video was later deleted.


The TikTok callout comes after Harrison responded to a tweet Friday questioning Johnson’s lineup decisions.

“Why Coach keep pulling (Isabelle Harrison) out?” a Twitter user asked, to which Harrison responded, “When you find out, lemme know.” Harrison later deleted the tweet.

Harrison played just nine minutes in the Wings’ most recent game, a 97-89 loss to the Los Angeles Sparks on Friday. She notched four points, two assists and two rebounds.

The Wings next play at 8 p.m. ET Tuesday against the Connecticut Sun. Dallas sits in eighth place in the league with a 9-12 record. The team has lost eight of its last 11 games, including its current three-game losing streak.

Dallas Wings forward Isabelle Harrison is taking her grievances to Twitter, calling out coach Vickie Johnson after the team’s loss Friday.

“Why Coach keep pulling (Isabelle Harrison) out?” a Twitter user asked, to which Harrison responded, “When you find out, lemme know.” Harrison later deleted the tweet.

She followed up with a TikTok post Tuesday that questioned the coach’s play calls, which she deleted later that day.

Harrison played just nine minutes in the Wings’ 97-89 loss to the Los Angeles Sparks, notching four points, two assists and two rebounds. In Dallas’ Tuesday matchup against Minnesota, Harrison played 17 minutes, logging six points, eight rebounds and one assist.

Last season, Harrison averaged 23.8 minutes per game. That has fallen to 22.1 minutes in the 2022 campaign.

The Wings have struggled on the court as of late, losing eight of their last 11 games, capped off by a three-game losing streak. Dallas is seventh in the WNBA standings with a 9-12 record on the season.

Dallas will look to get back in the win column when the team hosts the Connecticut Sun on Tuesday.

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