Basketball superstar Lauren Jackson has terminated talks with Canberra and will not play in the Women’s National Basketball League this summer after the Capitals failed to meet a contract deadline imposed by her management.
Jackson insisted the breakdown in talks would not harm her ongoing relationship with the Capitals. The 32-year-old confirmed she would still honour a deal to return to Canberra in late-2014 and play another two seasons.
But Jackson admitted she was disappointed the Capitals had not been able to finalise an extended deal with for the 2013-14 season, and she will now explore opportunities overseas.
The Capitals and Jackson had been talking about the extended deal since February, after Jackson failed to suit up at all last season because of a chronic hamstring injury.
Convinced she had overcome her injury, Jackson’s manager John Elliott sent a contract amendment to the Capitals on July 19.
When the Capitals responded they were not in a position to meet her payments, Jackson advised she was willing to accept delayed payments.
Elliott said he’d sent four requests for the contract amendment to the Capitals to be signed, before imposing a deadline of 5pm on Monday, July 29.
It is believed the contract was eventually signed by Basketball ACT boss Tony Jackson after the 5pm deadline. However, Lauren Jackson had already advised Elliott she had lost confidence in the process.
‘‘I think Canberra is really disappointed too right now, the way it played out,’’ she said.
‘‘I know Graffy [coach Carrie Graf] and the sponsors wanted me back as much as I did, but when you make a decision [to set a final deadline] you have to stick with it.
‘‘There’s no hard feelings. I’m not angry or sad or anything, it’s just business.
‘‘There [were] other opportunities and I have to plan for the future. I couldn’t just sit back and wait any longer.
‘‘I honestly think it’s an unfortunate case of [the Capitals] having a lot on your plate and not getting around to something which was very important.’’
Jackson will play for the Australian Opals in its world championship qualifier against New Zealand in Canberra on August 18. She will then pursue playing options overseas.
‘‘I’m still contracted to Canberra [from 2014-16], it’s not like too much has changed and I’ll be back again next year,’’ Jackson said.
‘‘But I have to look at my options now for this year, I couldn’t not play, if you know what I mean.
‘‘I’m a Canberra girl and I’ll finish off my playing days in Canberra, for sure.’’
Jackson’s deal is a third-party contract and Basketball Australia is a minor contributor.
However, Basketball Australia had offered extra financial assistance to get Jackson’s contract amendment over the line.
‘‘Last week, all parties reached verbal agreement that the contract variation was approved and Lauren would play in 2013-14 for the Capitals,’’ Basketball Australia issued in a statement.
‘‘However, it appears that Basketball ACT was unable to formalise the contract amendment and close the deal.
‘‘This is naturally disappointing for the fans who thought they would see Lauren on court this WNBL season."
Tony Jackson has not yet responded to calls from Fairfax Media.
The Capitals are now likely to ramp up their quest for Australian representative Abby Bishop for this summer’s WNBL campaign.
Jackson said she was disappointed she would not get to reunite with Capitals championship teammates Bishop and Natalie Hurst.
‘‘Abby is one of my best friends and I love playing with Natty. I would have absolutely loved it to happen,’’ Jackson said.