A ceremony for the Atlanta star
Just over two weeks after Atlanta Dream forward Angel McCoughtry announced via her Instagram that she would play in the Dream’s final game on September 8, the team has released a statement that McCoughtry has not been cleared to return to action this year.
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McCoughtry suffered a season-ending knee injury last August and has been rehabbing since then. In her absence, the Dream has struggled, posting a 7-25 record with just two games left to play.
After Atlanta’s game on August 20 — the day McCoughtry announced her intent to return — Dream coach Nicki Collen made it clear that McCoughtry was not ready to play basketball.
“She met with a doctor yesterday, but let me be clear, Angel is not cleared to play basketball,” Collen said at the time. “She’s not close to being cleared. She wants to put on a Dream uniform and step on the court, and so, I respect that and respect her wanting that. This is certainly us being grateful for what Angel does bring to the table. This is an opportunity for her to get on the court, if that’s the route we go, but she’s not cleared to play.”
Per a team release, McCoughtry will suit up for the Dream’s final game against the New York Liberty on September 8 and will participate in a “ceremonial aspect” of the game.
“I am a competitor and I truly miss the game – I attempted to return this season but unfortunately I have not yet been cleared, and have been advised not to jeopardize any remaining years I have left to play professional basketball,” McCoughtry said in a statement.
Playing without the five-time All-Star has clearly hindered the Dream this season. But with just two relatively meaningless games left, McCoughtry returning before she’s fully cleared is unnecessary and risks further injury.
After 9 years in the league and with her 33rd birthday coming up, it’s possible that McCoughtry will make a decision about her future this offseason. The Dream have a strong group of young players, and building for the future is more important now than any impact McCoughtry could provide in a handful of minutes in the final game of a disappointing season.
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