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Dwindling Overseas Opportunities for WNBA Players Amid Israel-Hamas Conflict and Russia-Ukraine War

by Michael Nguyen
6 comments
Overseas Opportunities for WNBA Players

For the past five WNBA offseasons, Alysha Clark, a key reserve for the Las Vegas Aces, has played basketball in Israel. However, the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas has made her reconsider returning this year, assuming the option is even available.

The Israeli women’s basketball league has temporarily halted all games due to the warfare. Clark expressed reservations about returning to Israel, a place she considers a second home, opting instead to stay with her family in Las Vegas.

With the WNBA season drawing to a close, players like Clark are exploring their next career moves. Options for overseas play are shrinking due to geopolitical tensions, including the Israel-Hamas conflict and the Russia-Ukraine war. In the past offseason, approximately half of the league’s 144 players ventured to countries such as Israel, Australia, Turkey, and Italy to supplement their earnings.

Veteran players like Clark, Jonquel Jones, and Breanna Stewart may find it relatively easier to secure overseas opportunities. However, younger players are facing challenges, especially with the 10-team Israeli league now suspended. Leigha Brown, a rookie with the Connecticut Sun, had plans to fly to Israel just before the conflict erupted. She ultimately stayed in the United States after her Israeli coach informed her of the league’s suspension.

For many players, Russia is also no longer a viable option. Following the unlawful detainment of Brittney Griner in 2022 and the ongoing war with Ukraine, Russia has been eliminated from players’ considerations for overseas play.

China has reemerged as a preferred destination for players like Jones and Connecticut Sun MVP candidate Alyssa Thomas, after being closed to international players due to its COVID-19 policies.

Another consideration for players planning their careers is the WNBA’s new prioritization rules. Starting from the 2024 season, players with more than two years of experience are required to report to their teams by May 1 or the beginning of training camp, failing which they will face suspension for the entire season.

The upcoming Paris Olympics may also influence the WNBA schedule, potentially requiring players to report earlier than usual. Marine Johannes of the New York Liberty, for example, plans to begin the season in the United States before heading to France to prepare for the Olympics. France has already secured an automatic bid as the host nation.

Breanna Stewart, meanwhile, is still weighing her options, particularly as she and her wife, Marta, are expecting their second child later this month.

In summary, WNBA players are facing increasingly limited options for overseas play, exacerbated by ongoing geopolitical conflicts and league regulations. This leaves players balancing multiple factors, including security, health, finances, and family obligations, as they plan their next career moves.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Overseas Opportunities for WNBA Players

What is the main issue affecting WNBA players’ overseas opportunities?

The main issue affecting WNBA players’ opportunities for overseas play is the impact of geopolitical conflicts, specifically the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, and the Russia-Ukraine war. These conflicts have led to the suspension of basketball leagues in these countries, thereby reducing options for players.

How are veteran WNBA players affected compared to rookies?

Veteran players like Alysha Clark, Jonquel Jones, and Breanna Stewart may find it relatively easier to secure other overseas playing opportunities due to their established reputations. In contrast, rookies and less experienced players face more challenges in finding alternative leagues.

Are there any other countries emerging as alternative options for WNBA players?

China has reemerged as a preferred destination for some players, after previously being closed to international players due to its COVID-19 policies.

How are league regulations affecting players’ decisions for overseas play?

Starting from the 2024 season, the WNBA has introduced new prioritization rules. Players with more than two years of experience must report to their teams by May 1 or the start of training camp, otherwise, they will be suspended for the entire season. This adds another layer of consideration for players planning their careers.

What are the key factors that players are considering when making career decisions?

Players are weighing multiple factors when deciding where they would like to play overseas. These include security conditions in the host country, health concerns, financial prospects, family obligations, and league regulations.

How may the upcoming Paris Olympics affect WNBA players?

The upcoming Paris Olympics may influence the WNBA schedule, potentially requiring players to report earlier than usual. Some players, like Marine Johannes, plan to start the season in the United States before heading to their home countries to prepare for the Olympics.

More about Overseas Opportunities for WNBA Players

  • WNBA Official Site
  • Israel-Hamas Conflict News
  • Russia-Ukraine War Coverage
  • China’s Reopening to International Players
  • WNBA Prioritization Rules for 2024 Season
  • Paris Olympics 2024 Information
  • Connecticut Sun Team Profile
  • Las Vegas Aces Team Profile

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6 comments

TonyK October 17, 2023 - 5:07 pm

Those new prioritization rules are a game changer. Gotta think twice before choosing to play abroad now.

Reply
MikeT October 18, 2023 - 2:35 am

Interesting how China’s coming back as an option. Health policies change, so do career choices I guess.

Reply
EmilyW October 18, 2023 - 3:14 am

Jonquel Jones and Breanna Stewart can still make bank in the US, but what about others? The financial angle is huge here.

Reply
JohnDoe October 18, 2023 - 5:13 am

Wow, never really thought about how geopolitics affect sports so much. These players gotta navigate a whole other world apart from the game.

Reply
SarahM October 18, 2023 - 5:16 am

I feel for the rookies, they’re just tryin to get their foot in the door. Its tough with these global issues making things uncertain.

Reply
LindaF October 18, 2023 - 10:08 am

can’t ignore the world around you, even in sports. Makes you realize how interconnected everything really is.

Reply

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