Asked about a report by Swish Appeal that placed former WNBA center and current Australian national standout Elizabeth Cambage in Dallas, a spokesperson for the Wings did nothing to extinguish the rumored return of the elite big to the WNBA.
“If there is something we need to say on our end, we will say it,” a Wings spokesperson wrote in response to being asked point blank whether the team has met with Cambage or had internal discussions about signing her.
There are plenty of circumstantial reasons to suspect a potential reunion between Cambage, 25, and the lone WNBA franchise she’s played for, albeit last happening in 2013 when the team played in Tulsa.
Cambage shares an agent and a nationality with new Dallas Wings director of franchise and player development Erin Phillips. She’d publicly discussed visiting Phillips as recently as late April. And a league source confirmed that Dallas still owns Cambage’s rights, the Wings nee Shock having drafted her with the second overall pick in 2011.
The fit on the court could scarcely be more acute. The Wings already suffered from a scarcity of legit fives, and learned last week that they’d lost their best rebounder and rim protector, Courtney Paris, for at least the next 6-8 weeks due to a knee injury.
In their first game without Paris, the Wings allowed a season-high for any WNBA team to the Phoenix Mercury, losing 107-65 on the road. A team they’d outrebounded 41-17 with Paris outpaced the Wings on the boards without Paris, 41-34.
“We have players that aren’t used to playing with each other, and at the end of the day they made sure that they were going to rebound this game because of how the last game went, and that was just an adjustment that we didn’t handle well,” Wings forward Glory Johnson said following the game. “They have bigger players than we have especially since Courtney isn’t in there with me. If I’m boxing out one player the other player need to box-out the other post, and they weren’t doing that. We didn’t adjust the way that we needed to.”
In Cambage, the Wings would be getting a potentially elite player at both ends of the floor. Though she played only 53 games in her WNBA career spaced over 2011-2013—she chose not to play in 2012—Cambage has a career player efficiency rating of 24.7, including a 29.9 mark in 2013, which ranked second in the league to Candace Parker’s 30.5. She also finished second that season in both block percentage and total rebound percentage, vital skills for a Dallas team now missing its leader in both categories. Her ability to dominate hasn’t diminished, either: Cambage, playing for Shanghai in 2015-16, averaged 26.4 points per game over 37 contests, though her Australian team finished a disappointing fifth in the 2016 Olympics.
Last month, she agreed to join the Deakin Melbourne Boomers of the WNBL.
Nor would many around the league put it past Cambage to come give the WNBA another try. As one WNBA coach put it, “She is somewhat flaky and whimsical. Wouldn’t be surprised if she made a guest appearance, though.”
As for what her impact around the league would be, particularly on a Dallas team that started 2-1 and looked ready to surprise people with a talented, youthful roster, her signing couldn’t come quickly enough.
The Wings have upcoming games against Tina Charles and the deep New York frontline on June 2, then head to Indiana for the second half of a back-to-back on June 3, followed by a five-game span on the schedule from June 6-16 that goes like this: Washington, Los Angeles, Minnesota, at Los Angeles, New York.
Will they have one of the world’s best bigs to help them navigate such treacherous waters? Mum’s the word, at least for now.