Sports

Jones, WNBA could return in July

It looks like Bahamian women’s professional basketball player Jonquel “JJ” Jones, the starting center of the Connecticut Sun in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), will be back on the court in short order. A proposal has the season getting underway on July 24, according to ESPN’s Mechelle Voepel.

An article surfaced late last week, also stating that games will be played at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, according to multiple sources.

The season was scheduled to get underway on May 15. A 36-game regular season schedule was on the table, but it was pushed back indefinitely because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the proposal, the league is allegedly suggesting a 22-game schedule.

Jones is riding out the pandemic at home on Grand Bahama. She and the Sun are on a mission to get back to work as they were one game shy of winning the WNBA championship last season. It was the Sun’s first WNBA Finals appearance since 2005, and they are still looking for their first title. The Sun fell in a fierce five-game series to a tough Washington Mystics team, losing three games to two.

There are no details about the playoffs which traditionally ends in October.

As for what it means for players’ salaries, Voepel wrote that a part of the

proposal include players possibly only receiving 60 percent of their normal salaries.

Executive Director of the Women’s National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA) Terri Jackson said that she has been talking to players.

“No decisions have been made,” Jackson told ESPN. “Players are considering all their options.”

This proposal came on the heels of the NBA Board of Governors approving a proposal on Thursday to restart their season on July 31. They will be in Orlando, Florida, at Walt Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. An eight-game schedule for each of the 22 teams is on the table. There could be a play-in tournament as well, and then the traditional playoffs will get underway and is set to end by October 12.

The IMG Academy Gymnasium has four state-of-the-art courts. Also, the Legacy Hotel is nearby.

Jones was phenomenal last season. Back in February she signed a multi-year contract to return to the Sun.

In 2019, the 6’6” Grand Bahamian was just shy of averaging a double-double in a healthy regular season where she played and started all 34 games. She finished the regular season averaging 14.6 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. She added two blocks per game. Jones led the league in rebounding and was tied with Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner for the league lead in blocks.

Jones’s stunning regular season numbers didn’t go unnoticed. She was named as an all-star and a member of the All-WNBA Second Team for the second time in her career. Jones was also named to the WNBA All-Defensive First Team.

For her rebounding efforts, the 2016 sixth overall pick in the WNBA Draft won the 2019 WNBA Peak Performer Award in that category for the second time in her career. She also won that award in 2017 when she inked her name in the history books by recording a WNBA record 403 rebounds in a season, averaging 11.9 per contest. She was named as the WNBA Most Improved Player that year.

During the team’s postseason run last year, Jones took her play up a notch, averaging 17.9 points and 10.4 rebounds per game.

Signing Jones to a new deal was just one move the Sun prioritized in the offseason. They also snatched veteran guard/forward DeWanna Bonner from the Mercury. Bonner averaged 17.2 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. The Sun is now expected to feature a starting frontline of Jones, Bonner and Alyssa Thomas.

This is set to be the league’s 24th year since its inaugural season in 1997. Though no agreement has come to fruition as yet, the proposal is a great sign that there are some efforts to get the season underway.

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Simba French

Simba joined The Nassau Guardian in 2012 as a technical producer for Guardian Radio 96.9 FM. He joined the Editorial Department as a sports reporter in 2018. Simba has covered a wide range of sports stories, including the 2018 CARIFTA in Nassau, Bahamas. Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism

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