Leaving ... Natalie Hurst Photo: Jeffrey Chan
Canberra Capitals star Nat Hurst has defended her decision to quit the club with two games left in the WNBL season, adamant signing a short-term deal in Turkey is the best move for her career.
But one of the competition's most valuable player contenders, Abby Bishop will finish the season before looking at similar offers from European clubs.
Hurst, one of the Capitals' most loyal servants, will leave Canberra on Thursday to link with Canik Belediye for the next two months on a lucrative deal.
The 30-year-old's exit coincides with the end of Canberra's slim finals hopes. It's the first time in more than a decade the Capitals have missed the play-offs in three consecutive seasons.
But Hurst, who is the only player to be a part of the Capitals' seven WNBL titles, said she wasn't abandoning her teammates and wanted to finish her career in the national capital.
''It's my home club, I've been here for 11 years and to ask for a release with just a couple of games left was tough,'' Hurst said.
''But Canberra understands it's my job. Financially it's a great opportunity for me to go over there before I decide what I'm going to do next season.
''For my career and to try to push for an [Australian] Opals spot, this is probably the best thing I can do.''
The Turkish competition boasts cashed-up clubs, which have lured women's basketball superstars, including Penny Taylor and Diana Taurasi, in the past.
Hurst has put her 228-game WNBL career on hold to sign with Canik Belediye until March 31 as an injury replacement.
She is yet to decide where she will play next season and is aiming for an Opals berth at the world championship this year.
The Capitals hope agreeing to Hurst's release will give the star point guard a financial boost as they attempt to lure her back for the 2014-15 campaign.
''If we were still in the finals mix, there's no way we would release Nat and we don't want to set a precedent for this in the future,'' Capitals coach Carrie Graf said.
''For Nat as a professional, it's a great opportunity and a very well-paying one. It's some goodwill for one of our long-term players and hopefully can help us in the future if she comes back.''
Hurst said: ''I want to get this club back to where we used to be. Canberra is where I started and where I want to finish.''