The Chicago Sky’s Diamond DeShields and Azura Stevens have left the WNBA bubble at IMG Academy, as first reported by the AP’s Doug Feinberg. According to the AP’s report, DeShields left for personal reasons and Stevens is out for the season with a left knee injury. Stevens will be evaluated by a cartilage specialist to address an osteochondral defect in her left knee, the team later announced.
AP Source: @chicagosky stars Diamond DeShields and Azura Stevens have left the bubble. Stevens out for season with left knee injury. DeShields left for personal reasons.
— Doug Feinberg (@DougFeinberg) August 29, 2020
The players’ departures will hurt the Sky, who entered the 2020 season with heightened excitement surrounding a potential title run. Last season, Chicago exceeded expectations in head coach James Wade’s first year in charge. After missing out on the playoffs the previous two seasons, the team turned things around in 2019 to qualify for the postseason and fell just short of a spot in the WNBA semifinals.
So far this season, the Sky have looked solid, but not good enough to challenge the top of the pack. Currently, the team sits in fifth place in the league standings with a 10-5 overall record as Courtney Vandersloot puts up MVP-caliber numbers, posting a 50-40-90 shooting plit while running the Sky offense, and Allie Quigley is as dependent as ever, averaging 15.3 points per game while shooting 47% from the field.
DeShields has struggled to get going this year, missing some time due to injury and not looking like her usual electric self when on the floor. She was averaging just 6.8 points per game while shooting 43% from the field and just 17% from beyond the arc. During a game against the New York Liberty on Aug. 20, she suffered a quadriceps injury and was taken to a nearby hospital for evaluation.
Meanwhile, prior to injuring her knee, Stevens was enjoying her best season in a Chicago uniform. The 6’6 forward was averaging a career-high 11.5 points and 5.9 rebounds for the Sky before missing the team’s last two games while dealing with soreness in her left knee. In the same 101-85 win against the Liberty on Aug. 20, she exploded season-high 25 points and seven rebounds in what would be her last game of the season.
In a recent trade with the Indiana Fever, the Sky acquired forward Stephanie Mavunga and two picks in the 2021 WNBA Draft in exchange for former All-Star center Jantel Lavender. Additionally, Chicago has rookie Ruthy Hebard, Cheyenne Parker and Gabby Williams on their roster at the forward position who will all help cope with the loss of Stevens.