Capitals keen on early return for Jackson
Frustrated ... Lauren Jackson. Photo: Colleen Petch
Lauren Jackson hasn't ruled out playing for the Canberra Capitals next season, but says any decision is unlikely any time soon after ruling herself out of the coming WNBA season with Seattle.
And her manager, John Elliott, has indicated any discussions with Capitals management are likely to be shelved until Jackson fully recovers from her chronic hamstring injury.
After confirming she will sit out the Storm's 2013 campaign, an emotional Jackson said she struggled to sleep as she awaited reaction from the Seattle basketball community.
The 31-year-old Australian Opals star has been forced to sit out the entire Capitals season, the first year of a $1 million third-party deal with the WNBL club.
She is contracted to play in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 campaigns, but Elliott has fielded unofficial inquiries from the Capitals about playing next season.
''I'm not sure yet. We really haven't talked about it,'' Jackson said on Thursday. ''There's been so much going on, I haven't really made any decisions or plans, and I'm not planning to any time soon.''
Elliott told The Canberra Times talk of an early Jackson comeback was ''speculation'' until she proved she was ready to return to the court.
Jackson had successful surgery in Melbourne four weeks ago, where several previously undetected issues were diagnosed.
''Certainly people have mentioned that to me [an early return], but it's just speculation,'' Elliott said.
''To be quite frank with you, we wouldn't entertain discussing anything until Lauren could play again.
''If you were the Capitals CEO, why would you want Lauren to play next season unless you knew she was fit?
''We expect her to make a full recovery, but until she does nothing's going to be considered.''
Jackson decided to pull the pin on the WNBA early in order to give Seattle as much time as possible to sign a replacement marquee player.
''The decision was really difficult, but ultimately I wasn't confident I was going to be right to go in June, and Seattle have been so supportive with me and my injuries over the years,'' Jackson said.
''I didn't want to put them in a position where if I got injured or wasn't right to play, that they wouldn't be able to get another player later.
''I hate the fact people want to see me play and I want to be out there more than anything, but I feel like if I had gone back this year it would have been the end of my career in America, and I didn't particularly want to go out that way.''
Jackson said the overwhelming support from her Seattle teammates and coach Brian Agler helped ease her concerns.
''The biggest thing for me was I didn't want to disappoint anybody, I still don't,'' she said.
''In December I spoke to a couple of my teammates over the phone and they said I need to do what's best for my body, because they need me in the future.
''I have not had any sleep. I was worried and scared about the reaction. I was waiting for America to put out the press release all night and it's been a really stressful day.''
Jackson said her health had improved considerably since the operation, overseen by Dr David Young who works with AFL side Western Bulldogs.
''I'm feeling a lot better, I can do things I could not do four weeks ago,'' she said.
''As unfit as I am cardiovascular-wise, I have been trying to run a little bit down the coast, some paddle boarding.''
She also floated the possibility of turning out in the SEABL for home town Albury mid-year should her fitness improve enough.
''In Albury there's the SEABL team down there, so I'm sure I'll practise with them and maybe get into a game every now and then,'' Jackson said.
''If June comes around and I'm fit and ready to play, I have to look at the options I might have.''
Capitals coach Carrie Graf said the club was not putting any pressure on Jackson or her management to open official talks about next season.
''Basketball ACT has talked to her agent previously and floated the idea, but there needs to be some time for Lauren to digest not going back to the WNBA,'' Graf said.
''What we do know is she has two more seasons with the Capitals in the next three years as per the contract. That's a minimum. If that changes and moves forward that would be a huge plus for the organisation.''