Breaking: Elizabeth Cambage will not return to Tulsa for the 2014 WNBA season.— Tulsa Shock (@TulsaShock) April 23, 2014
The Tulsa Shock announced earlier today that 6-foot-8 Australian center Liz Cambage will not be with the team this season as she will instead be training with the Australian National Team in preparation for the World Championships this summer.
The news is probably not much of a surprise to most women's basketball fans and it's hard to fault Cambage for wanting to represent her country in international play instead of returning to the U.S. Yet in the context of a WNBA career filled with indecision and a general lack of commitment to playing in Tulsa, it's also not hard to fault fans for being tired of this annual ritual of hearing that Cambage won't be with the team.
After missing this season, Cambage will only have played in the WNBA in two of the four seasons during which she has been a member of the Shock since being drafted second overall in 2011. Although she ranked among the league's best offensive players when she played last season, she only played in 20 games due to injury. The other season she played was in her rookie year under Nolan Richardson in 2011.
In drafting 6-foot-5 post player Theresa Plaisance in the third round of the 2014 WNBA Draft, the Shock may have been trying to prepare themselves for the possibility of needing an extra post in the event of Cambage's absence - Plaisance's chances of making the roster figure to dramatically improve in Cambage's absence, even if it's unreasonable to expect her to fully replace the Australian's production.
While it's understandable that Tulsa fans have been calling for the team to just part ways with Cambage altogether, the question is whether she even has much trade value at this point: even aside from lacking leverage in negotiating a deal for a player who isn't committed to them, any trade partner would have to be legitimately concerned about a) whether she'd be any more committed to another team and b) whether she'll continue to be a player who only plays in every other season.
At the same time, if there's a team out there who is willing to absorb that risk, is a struggling franchise like Tulsa really in position to reject any deal?
For more on the team that drafted Cambage, check out our Tulsa Shock offseason storystream.