After planning to sit out the 2015 WNBA season, Candace Parker will return to the Sparks on July 29 as L.A. takes on the Minnesota Lynx.
The Sparks initially announced that Parker would miss the start of the 2015 season, but Parker recently revealed that she wasn’t planning on playing at all.
Following a two-month layoff, however, Parker says she’s “in a good place,” and ready to rejoin the Sparks, who are off to a league-worst 2-12 start.
More from ESPN:
Two-time WNBA MVP Candace Parker plans to return to the Los Angeles Sparks on July 29 after sitting out the first half of the season to rest.
Parker told ESPN on Friday that she initially had planned to sit out the entire season to rest her body after years of year-round basketball in the WNBA, overseas in Russia and with Team USA. But she remained open to a return after a few months.
“This was never about basketball. I just had to rest mentally and physically,” Parker said in a telephone interview. “I’m in a good place now. I was able to spend a lot of time with my family, do some of the things I have never been able to do. And when I started training again, it was from a healthy place instead of trying to push through injuries.”
Parker, 28, had knee surgery and platelet-rich plasma injections in her knee after the WNBA season last September, then spent the winter and spring playing professionally in Russia with her club team, UMMC Ekaterinburg.
Phoenix Mercury star Diana Taurasi also plays for Ekaterinburg, and both players make more than $1.5 million a year. Taurasi announced this winter that she was skipping the entire WNBA season to rest her body in advance of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Parker said she initially felt she needed the same long, uninterrupted break to heal various injuries, but she has worked with the Sparks to find a compromise.
“I don’t think people understand that it’s a year-round thing,” Parker said. “It takes a toll on you physically and mentally. If I can’t go out and give my best effort — physically or mentally — then I don’t need to be on the court. I don’t think I could’ve done that at the beginning of the season, but I was fortunate that I got the time I needed and now I’m in a good place.”