Opals star Lauren Jackson is set to be out for four months, but looks certain to play for the Capitals next season. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
The Canberra Capitals have allayed fears about Lauren Jackson's return to the WNBL next season, saying a 16-week injury-forced break will refresh the four-time Olympian for her comeback campaign.
Jackson will miss four months after having knee and Achilles tendon surgery in Melbourne on Monday, less than 24 hours after arriving back in Australia.
Jackson has a contract with the Capitals to play the 2014-15 and 2015-16 WNBL campaigns as part of a three-season third-party deal worth almost $1 million.
Jackson missed an entire season with the Capitals last year because of a hamstring injury and a contract bungle ended hopes she would join the Capitals this season.
Capitals coach Carrie Graf spoke with Jackson on Tuesday and is confident the superstar will be re-energised when she joins the team in October.
''Unfortunately for Lauren it looks like she won't go back to the [US] WNBA but from a Capitals perspective this injury will help her be refreshed for the next two years,'' Graf said.
''She will join us after the Australian Opals' world championship campaign and she will be in a good space. No injury is good timing but it gives her some time off before she plays for us.''
Jackson has battled injuries over the past two years and her court time has been limited.
The 32-year-old was managing a problem in her left Achilles tendon while playing with Chinese club Heilongjiang Shenda. But a torn meniscus in her right knee ended her Chinese season and will keep her out of action until June.
Orthopaedic surgeon David Young - the same surgeon who operated on Jackson's hamstring a year ago - repaired the damage.
Jackson will miss the start of the WNBA season with the Seattle Storm and it's unlikely she will be fit in time to join the Storm's campaign this year.
Jackson has committed to the Opals' world championship build-up and her injury won't affect her two-year deal with the Capitals.
Opals coach Brendan Joyce hopes to have Jackson for a tour of Japan in July before the world championships in Turkey in September.
Joyce and Basketball Australia had expressed concerns about Jackson's heavy training and playing load in China before her injuries.
''Dr Young said she could play until she's 40 years old, there's no worries about the repairs and the problems have all been fixed,'' Joyce said.
''It's positive news, she probably needs a break after playing in China. Now there's the opportunity for a really good preparation.
''And we'd rather have her right for the real deal at the world championships. Lauren's been playing and training in pain … the worlds are the focus and she'll have peace of mind with her injuries.''
The Capitals are still working with the University of Canberra about a takeover of the club's WNBL licence.
The deal will not affect Jackson's contract to return to Canberra for the next two WNBL campaigns.