Emma Meesseman to miss 2018 WNBA season, will return in 2019

News broke Wednesday afternoon that Washington Mystics forward Emma Meesseman will not play in the upcoming 2018 WNBA season.

WNBA teams can officially begin signing free agents on Thursday. The Mystics may pursue different players in free agency with this news and a deep playoff run in 2018 still in mind.

Meesseman, a 2015 All-Star, spent the first five seasons of her career in Washington. The Mystics selected her with the 19th overall pick in the 2013 draft. In addition to already being recognized as a versatile and multi-faceted scorer, Meesseman already is likely to go down as one of the biggest draft day steals in WNBA history.

Meesseman has been a very durable player in her pro career, appearing in all 34 games in each of her first four seasons. She became a full-time starter in 2014 for the Mystics. Meesseman appeared in 23 regular season games in 2017, missing some time due to her commitment to compete in EuroBasket over the summer.

The Summitt’s Lindsay Gibbs had more information pertaining to Meesseman’s reasoning for this decision:

Mystics head coach and general manager Mike Thibault offered more context in an official release.

“Emma has played year-round for almost six consecutive years, without time to rest her body from the wear and tear that results from that kind of schedule,” stated Thibault. “In addition, Emma feels that her National Team preparation in August and September, ahead of the 2018 World Cup of Basketball, is a priority for her at this point in her career. We are sorry that Emma will not be with us this season, but we have been preparing for this possibility for a while.”

Meesseman and Elena Delle Donne proved to be a formidable duo up front last season in Delle Donne’s first season with the team. Both players can face up to hit open jumpers or put the ball on the floor to get to the rim. The Mystics were swept in the 2017 WNBA semifinals by the Minnesota Lynx, but there were several reasons for Mystics fans to remain hopeful moving forward.

Meesseman missed an entire month of the WNBA regular season while competing at EuroBasket. Washington’s starting point guard Tayler Hill suffered a torn ACL in July. And Delle Donne is not the only new piece Mike Thibault was working with — 2017 was the first season in town for starters Kristi Toliver and Krystal Thomas as well. No. 6 pick Shatori Walker-Kimbrough was in and out of the rotation, but she could have a big impact on the team’s success in 2018 if she knocks down shots from the outside as she did for Maryland.

Update (February 6): In a corresponding move, the Mystics have suspended Meesseman for the entire 2018 season. The move will free up a valuable roster spot and her salary will not count against the the team’s books.

Knowing Meesseman won’t be in the mix in 2018, how should Washington proceed this offseason?