For the first time since the Storm’s playoff loss last September, the nine-time WNBA All-Star returned to the court to participate in 5-on-5 drills.

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Tuesday proved to be a big day in Sue Bird’s rehabilitation from offseason knee surgery.

For the first time since the Storm’s playoff loss last September, the nine-time WNBA All-Star returned to the court to participate in 5-on-5 drills.

And it was vintage Bird.

Without a knee brace and showing no signs of discomfort, the 36-year-old point guard glided across the floor at Seattle Pacific University during a team scrimmage.

She was the consummate playmaker who set up teammates and delivered passes for scoring opportunities while draining mid-range and perimeter shots.

When it was over, Bird offered a tepid endorsement of her outing.

“My game isn’t predicated on overpowering or being physical so I can kind of seamlessly come back in,” she said. “I still got to work some kinks out like timing, awareness and if I were to sum it up it would be rhythm.

“You tend to lose that. There was some stuff that I missed and some shots that I missed. … But as far as my knee goes, it’s feeling good and that’s all I really care about.”

Bird’s return put the Storm at full strength for the first time this season.

She shared the floor with star forward Breanna Stewart (knee), reserve forward Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (playing in France) and backup guard Noelle Quinn (bruised thigh) – each absent from training camp.

Without the quartet, the Storm was short-handed during a home-and-away split against Phoenix in last week’s exhibitions.

“It’s good to have everybody out there,” coach Jenny Boucek said. “We’ve had some key pieces out. Players that we’re building around and a lot of things are structured for them and to play through them so it makes a big difference when they’re out there.

“Injuries are part of the game so we were trying to take it one day at a time and work with what we have. Getting other players better.”

Despite playing limited minutes, third-year guard Jewell Loyd led Seattle with 13.5 points per game in the preseason. Newcomer Carolyn Swords, a 6-foot-6 center acquired in a January trade with New York, averaged 10 points, five rebounds and two steals while making a good impression.

Boucek was eager to see how the Storm’s 10 returners would mix with the four newcomers, which included draft picks Alexis Peterson and Lanay Montgomery.

“Let’s just say we’re not where we need to be yet, but we don’t have to be today,” Boucek said.

The Storm remains noncommittal if Bird, Stewart or Quinn will be available for Saturday’s regular-season opener at defending WNBA champion Los Angeles or Sunday’s home opener against Indiana at KeyArena.

“More than anyone, I would love to be out there for opening weekend,” Bird said. “At the same time, I know it’s a 34-game season so I’m just trying to make the right choices and make the right decisions for myself and my body and also for the team.

“It’s a little bit of juggling act. … I need to get to a point where I’m playing consecutive minutes and I haven’t even smelled that yet.”


• Free agent guard Sami Whitcomb, the former UW standout, missed the final minutes of practice due to an ankle injury.

• WNBA teams must finalize rosters before 2 p.m. PT Friday. The Storm has 14 players on the roster and the limit is 12.