An extension of some suspense for Chiney Ogwumike

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 4: Chiney Ogwumike /

Training camp begins tomorrow for all WNBA teams. Chiney Ogwumike won’t be among the participants, but she will continue her role as an emissary for the Connecticut Sun.

On Saturday, the Sun announced that Ogwumike signed a multi-year contract extension to stay with the team. However, she will be suspended for the 2017 season. The 25-year-old forward had off-season surgery to correct an injury to her Achilles tendon, so the suspension allows Ogwumike to focus on recovery. Had a suspension not been issued, Ogwumike would have reached the end of her rookie contract this season, so the extension shores up a vital element of Connecticut’s identity.

“It’s never easy choosing to sit out a season, but I knew this would give my team the best chance to be successful not only this year but also for years to come,” Ogwumike said in a statement published by the Sun. “I am really excited about our strong young core, and my contract extension ensures that upon my return to the court in 2018, we will continue to build together.”

Ogwumike encountered a similar scenario in 2015, when micro-fracture surgery on her right knee sidelined her for the entire season. Instead of occupying a slot on the Sun’s roster, Ogwumike determined that sitting out could offer her team some long-term benefits. Allison Galer, Ogwumike’s agent, published a tweet with a quote from the Associated Press that further explained the maneuver.

Ogwumike’s gesture of altruism is worthy of appraisal, but it’s also an unfortunate side effect of WNBA teams not having an injured reserve list. The remaining choices for teams are suspension, keeping the player on the active roster, or waiving their contracts. None are ideal, but those are the circumstances until the provision is changed.

UNCASVILLE, CT – AUGUST 26: Chiney Ogwumike
UNCASVILLE, CT – AUGUST 26: Chiney Ogwumike /

Suffering two season-ending injuries in three years is a tough blow for the 2014 Rookie of the Year, but Ogwumike’s value is equally tough to ignore. Following her 2015 absence, Ogwumike’s player efficiency rating last year (22.9) was close to her 2014 figure (23.9). In 2016, she was fifth in the league in field goal percentage at .587 and offensive rating at 121.3. If nothing else, the data offers a vote of reassurance for Ogwumike that she can recapture her potency when she returns.

Followers of Ogwumike also know her utility goes far beyond numbers. Her perceptive and strident presence offers a strong branding platform for the Sun and WNBA. A huge fan of sports, Ogwumike has channeled that passion by building her media credentials, including some guest appearances on the ESPN program “First Take.”