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Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird to sit out 2013 season due to upcoming knee surgery

Today, the Seattle Storm announced that guard Sue Bird will sit out the 2013 WNBA season due to a knee surgery she will have this spring to remove a cyst in her right knee. Along with the loss of Lauren Jackson due to her pending recovery from hamstring surgery in January, it is a guarantee now that the Storm will play its first full season since its inaugural campaign in 2000 without either player in its dynamic duo.

Storm guard Sue Bird will be out for the 2013 season.
Storm guard Sue Bird will be out for the 2013 season.

Bird has played 11 seasons, all with Seattle, and has been one of the most accomplished guards in the WNBA's history. She has won two league championships (2004 and 2010) and three Olympic gold medals (2004, 2008, 2012) as a professional basketball player. In terms of her career stats as of the time of this post, she is 15th all time in total points scored and field goals made, 6th in three point shots made, 18th in free throw percentage, 9th in steals and total minutes played, and second all time in assists, assists per game, and minutes per game. After looking at her total accomplishments and where she stands among the leaders, let's just say that she's not just one of the "most accomplished guards", but rather she's one of the best players in WNBA history.

According the Storm's press release, the cyst was discovered last fall by her doctor at the University of Connecticut, where she played during her college years. Because the cyst isn't causing her pain right now, she will still play for UMMC Ekaterinburg for the rest of the winter season before having the surgery, which will take about six months to fully recover from the knee surgery once it happens. She will be in Seattle for the summer however to support her team.

Here is Head Coach/GM Brian Agler's statement on this development:

We support the decision to address the issue with Sue's knee now. It is important for us all to take a long term view in situations like this. We want Sue to return to full health and be healthy enough to play in 2014 and for a many more seasons with the Storm. We are focused on putting our team together and look forward to another competitive WNBA season.

And here is Bird's:

It is with great disappointment I share that I have developed a cyst in my right knee and this spring, I will be undergoing preventative surgery. The doctors have informed me that I will be in recovery and intense physical therapy for approximately six months, which means I will be forced to miss this upcoming WNBA season. The doctors feel very strongly that if I take care of this as soon as I complete my current tour in Europe, it will ward off future debilitating consequences. While I may not be on the court in 2013 for the Storm, I will be in Seattle, cheering from the sidelines and doing whatever it takes to support the team throughout the season.

With this news, what does this mean for the Storm for 2013 and beyond?

That preview we made on the Storm balancing youth with its veterans? Yeah, we might as well scrap it, because unfortunately the future is now. Does that mean that the Storm figures to have a youth movement for 2013? Not so fast because Head Coach and GM Brian Agler is not so keen on doing that. The team recently acquired veteran guards Noelle Quinn and Temeka Johnson and center Nakia Sanford during free agency, so it looks like Johnson is now a true starting point guard for them and Quinn will provide a shooting presence to stretch the floor. Sanford may also be projected to start as well. The number six pick in the 2013 Draft now will also have a head start to show what she can do in a larger role than otherwise should Bird or Jackson be in the lineup. Barring an unexpected surprise run, I doubt that this year's team will make the 2013 Playoffs. The Lynx, Sparks, and Mercury all are deeper and younger teams than the Storm. The rising Shock, even with the loss of its two leading scorers and Stars even without Sophia Young also will be a tough team for Seattle to beat.

It would not be surprising to see this team "battling" the Washington Mystics for the most chances in the 2014 Draft Lottery. It may not be a bad thing for the Storm however, since the team needs to find that possible franchise star to succeed Bird and Jackson. So in short, this all seems like doom and gloom news for the Storm, but there is now a chance for some younger players to show what they can do and succeed at least individually and to show fans that there is a bright future in Seattle.

To me, the simple answer to this development is that the Storm must start looking to the future NOW and develop their already current younger players like Shekinna Stricklen and Alysha Clark and see what they can do in starting or at least sixth/seventh man type roles. The same goes for the draft and the rest of free agency where the team needs to go after younger players who still have their best basketball ahead of them though a lot of these moves have been made already. While this 2013 season may look to be a bad season in the record books for the green and gold, the Storm still has a great chance this year to bring in more youth and see which of those players may be great fits for the future.

All of us at Swish Appeal wish Sue a safe and speedy recovery.