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WNBA’s small salary to force Liz Cambage to leave?

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The Dallas Wings have been one of the WNBA’s surprise success stories this season.

A lot of that attention is in part because of the comeback story of Liz Cambage, who hadn’t stepped foot on a WNBA court since 2013, when the Wings were the Tulsa Shock. And now, there is a possibility that Cambage may not step foot on a WNBA court again.

In a pre-game interview on Tuesday afternoon, Cambage said that she has not fully committed to playing for the Wings in 2019. There is also a huge possibility that this could be her final season, as she has been one of the most vocal players in terms of travel conditions, on-court play and inequal pay between playing overseas versus the WNBA.

Cambage, who some consider an MVP front-runner, said that she still has a lot of time before she makes a final decision. She is scheduled to represent Australia in the FIBA World Cup after this season ends, then will play in China afterwards.

“I’ll see how I feel after China,” Cambage said. “I think I probably have five days at home [in Australia] for the rest of this year, until February next year. We’ll see how I’m feeling.”

Cambage has been one of the shining stars of this season, as she not only broke the single-game scoring record (July 17: 53 points against the New York Liberty), but then broke the record for most points in a two-game span when she put up 35 against the Washington Mystics two days later. As of August 11, Cambage led the league in scoring (23 PPG), and was in the top five in blocks per game (1.8), rebounds (9.6) and field goal percentage (58.8).

However, the compacted schedule that the WNBA has implemented this season has caused multiple travel issues. This has been a long-time concern, but has been a more prominent issue this season. Add to that the miniscule pay, and you can see why players like Cambage have reason for concern.

“I’ve said this many times: [The WNBA] doesn’t pay my bills … playing here doesn’t pay my bills,” Cambage said. “We make more money overseas. I’m ready to have next summer off and focus on getting a European contract where its 10 seasons here worth the pay.

“It sucks because I love to be here, I love to put the game out there, I love what comes with playing here. But at the end of the day, for my longevity, I worry about my body, my mind and my soul. I really don’t get paid enough to be beaten up every game. I’m not a WWE wrestler and that’s how it feels sometimes out on the court.”

For the Dallas Wings, you have to be seriously concerned here. Cambage has been one of the few bright spots in Dallas’ short history, especially in what has turned out to be a turmoil-filled last few weeks. The Wings have not only lost their last nine games, but also fired their long-time head coach, Fred Williams, after an altercation with the team’s CEO, Greg Bibb.

If Cambage doesn’t come back next season, they’ll have to make up a significant chunk of scoring. After Cambage, the only other player in double figures is Skylar Diggins-Smith at 18.2 points per game. The dropoff between Diggins-Smith and the third-leading scorer (Karima Christmas-Kelly) is nearly nine points, which is ironic considering that the Wings have the third-highest point total this season (behind the Seattle Storm and Connecticut Sun).

No matter how you slice it, if 2018 is the last season we see Liz Cambage in a WNBA uniform, this will be a bad look not just for the Dallas Wings, but the WNBA as a whole as they try and expand their fanbase and worldwide reach.

Chris Bullock
Chris Bullock
Before joining The Ball Out, Chris Bullock was part of SB Nation's Swish Appeal for nearly three years, covering everything women's basketball. Chris has had the honor of doing live coverage of the WNBA Finals, the NCAA Tournament, and also was given his own column, "The Triple Double". A self-described "foodaholic", Chris lives in the San Diego area with his wife and two daughters, and also hosts his own podcast, "Conscious Cravings", where he speaks about his experience as a mental health advocate.

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