Sue Bird will not play for the Storm this year.
Internally, the team wasn’t planning on a late-season return from the 38-year-old perennial All-Star guard, but she left the door open on possibly playing this season. She underwent arthroscopic surgery on her left knee May 30.
On Tuesday, the Storm confirmed what many had already suspected and announced Bird will not play in the final three regular-season games and the playoffs.
“While it has been difficult not to be on the court with my teammates, I am very proud of what they have accomplished this season,” Bird said in a release. “I look forward to suiting up for the Storm in 2020.”
It’s the second time Bird has sat out an entire year for medical reasons. She also skipped the 2013 WNBA season after having a cyst surgically removed from her left knee.
Bird, who is in the final year of a deal that pays her $117,500, has expressed a desire to play in the 2020 Olympics. She could become the first American woman to five Olympic basketball gold medals. (Teresa Edwards appeared in five Olympics, winning four golds and a bronze.)
Last year, Bird averaged 10.1 points and 1.7 rebounds while reaching career highs in assists (7.1), field-goal shooting percentage (46.6) and three-point shooting percentage (44.8) despite averaging a career-low 26.5 minutes.
Without Bird at the helm, second-year point guard Jordin Canada has emerged as a WNBA Most Improved Player candidate this season while giving Storm fans a glimpse of what the team will look like when Bird, a future Hall of Famer who turns 39 in October, finally retires.
Canada, taken No. 5 overall in the 2018 WNBA draft, is averaging 10.0 points, 5.1 assists and 2.5 rebounds and leads the league with 2.3 steals. The Storm is 9-4 when Canada scores at least 10 points.
Seattle (16-15), which plays at Phoenix (15-16) at 7 p.m. Tuesday, needs a win to pull into sixth-place tie with Minnesota (17-15) in the standings.
The Storm, Mercury and Lynx have secured postseason berths and are jockeying for the final three playoff seeds.