Candace Parker is expected to return for the Chicago Sky against the Indiana Fever on Wednesday, as coach James Wade finally had a positive update on the star forward’s status during his Tuesday media availability per the Chicago Sun-Times’ Annie Costabile.
James Wade said he expects Candace Parker to play tomorrow vs. the Indiana Fever.
— Annie Costabile (@AnnieCostabile) June 8, 2021
That’s great news for a team that’s lost seven straight games and plummeted to 11th place in a 12-team league. Parker injured her ankle before the team’s second game of the season on May 19 and hasn’t played since. She posted pictures of her severely bruised foot ahead of the team’s home-opener, which was a heavily anticipated event for more reasons than usual. The WNBA champion and five-time All-Star chose to play closer to home in Naperville, Illinois in free agency after 13 years with the Los Angeles Sparks.
The team has since posted pictures of her back in practice, and Parker’s shared videos of rehab she’s done over the last few weeks on Instagram. She looks ready to make her home debut a few weeks later than we originally thought.
Injuries have dictated the start of the Sky’s season as the team’s big 4 of Parker, Courtney Vandersloot, Allie Quigley, and Diamond DeShields haven’t played a single game together. But even since Quigley’s return, the team has lost to the Phoenix Mercury, who were without Diana Taurasi, and the Los Angeles Sparks, who were without Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike. Put simply, they’re slumping.
Through nine games in a 32-game regular season, the team is 2-7, including a buzzer-beating halfcourt heartbreaker of loss, with a negative net rating as they are being outscored by 2.5 points per 100 possessions. Parker should be the difference-maker though, if she’s fully recovered. In the team’s season-opener against the Mystics, she commanded the floor, scoring 16 points on 10 field goal attempts with three 3-pointers, eight rebounds, and four assists.
The season’s still young, but the window is getting tighter for the Sky to earn a top-2 seed in the playoffs. The two top spots are strongly coveted in the WNBA playoffs as the only way to avoid playing in a single-elimination game, and they’ll need the future Hall of Famer to kick off a big run if they’re to get into that mix.