Capitals ask Jackson the million-dollar question
Capitals coach Carrie Graf. Photo: Jay Cronan
The Canberra Capitals are pleading with superstar Lauren Jackson to alter the terms of her lucrative contract and reunite with coach Carrie Graf next season.
Graf announced on Tuesday she would remain with the Capitals for another three years, but Jackson's future is up in the air.
The four-time Olympian is not scheduled to play for the Capitals in the 2013-14 season, as part of a unique $1 million three-season, five-year deal. But the Capitals are hoping to convince Jackson to lace up the boots after she didn't play a single minute of the first season of her contract.
Decisions, decisions ... Capitals star Lauren Jackson. Photo: Jay Cronan
The 31-year-old missed the WNBL season with a chronic hamstring injury, and she has elected to sit out the upcoming WNBA campaign with the Seattle Storm.
Basketball ACT chief executive Tony Jackson is hoping to have an answer from Lauren Jackson in the next couple of months so the Capitals can go about the task of rebuilding their roster for another championship tilt.
''We've put some pressure on [her management] to not push the timeline along much,'' Jackson said.
''Our argument is she needs to consider returning and consider what's best for her and for the Canberra community that's supported her so much.
''She needs to show maturity and a bit of professionalism, and the best way she can do that is to play next season. If she decides not to because she gets a lucrative contract [overseas], we'll move on to the original plan that she wouldn't be available next year.''
Graf was confident uncertainty about whether Jackson would suit up for the Capitals wouldn't have an impact on recruiting players.
''I don't see it as a hindrance at all,'' Graf said.
''There'll be discussions in the next couple of months to see if the contract can be rejigged, but we won't know for a month or two.''
Jackson would have to forgo offers from rich European clubs to help spearhead a potentially new-look Capitals line-up.
Only point guards Nicole Hunt and Tessa Lavey, and promising forward Alex Bunton, are under contract for next season.
In Jackson's absence, the Capitals finished second-last in the competition with a 7-17 record, and won just two of their final 16 games.
Graf will return without the burden of sharing duties as the coach of the Australian Opals. Instead she will be the first coach-in-residence at the University of Canberra.
Her extended contract will take her to 15 years in charge of the Capitals, the club she has guided to six WNBL titles.
The veteran mentor believes not having to balance her Opals commitments will play a role in steering the Capitals back to the top of the competition.
''I am fortunate to be in a situation where I have off-shore offers on the table and I'm sure they will be there again,'' Graf said.
''But it's about timing and I really believe we're on the cusp of taking the Capitals to another level.
''We're going to go about building a roster we feel can compete for play-offs and championships.''