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Lynx star Maya Moore to skip ’19 WNBA season

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Lynx star Maya Moore has decided to skip the upcoming WNBA season, seeking more time to devote to her family and her faith.

Moore announced Tuesday on The Players’ Tribune website that she’ll sit out in 2019. She already had taken the fall and winter off from international competition. The five-time first-team All-WNBA honoree has helped the Lynx win four championships since her rookie year, 2011.

“The success that I’ve been a part of in basketball truly blows my mind every time I think about it,” Moore said in her post. “But the main way I measure success in life is something I don’t often get to emphasize explicitly through pro ball.”

Raised by a single mother with strong Christian beliefs, Moore has spoken often about her desire for a well-rounded life steered by biblical principles . She quoted from scripture in her brief essay and, without citing specifics, said she plans to invest time in “some ministry dreams that have been stirring in my heart for many years.”

Reforming the justice system has been a particular passion of hers , including a personal interest she has taken in the case of Jonathan Irons , who was imprisoned in Missouri in 1997 by what his supporters contend was a wrongful burglary conviction at age 16.

“I’m sure this year will be hard in ways that I don’t even know yet, but it will also be rewarding in ways I’ve yet to see, too,” Moore wrote. “I’m thankful to my Lynx family and others close to me who have been walking with me during this shift, and I’m excited to see what the future holds.”

Last season was only the second time since Moore was drafted first overall that the Lynx didn’t reach the WNBA Finals. Moore was eighth in the league in minutes and seventh in points in 2018. She has missed one game in eight seasons, with career averages of 18.4 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.

“We support her in this exploration and will continue to provide her the love and care she has always known from her Lynx family,” general manager and head coach Cheryl Reeve said in a statement distributed by the team.

Moore, who went to high school in the Atlanta area she now calls home, was given the franchise tag last month by the Lynx, preventing her from becoming a free agent. The 29-year-old, who won the WNBA Most Valuable Player award in 2014, expressed her fatigue — and her eagerness for some extended rest — near the end of the 2018 season, which saw the Lynx ousted in the first round of the playoffs. The league compressed the 34-game schedule by three weeks from the 2017 slate.

Moore was the top vote-getter for the All-Star game last summer in Minnesota, but she passed on the team captain responsibility that would have required her to draft from the 22-player pool. Candace Parker of the Los Angeles Sparks took her place, joining Elena Delle Donne of the Washington Mystics in assembling the sides. Moore had 18 points, eight rebounds and six assists in the exhibition to earn her third straight All-Star Game MVP award.

Moore also opted out of the Women’s Basketball World Cup, the first major event she wasn’t on the U.S. national team for since the 2008 Summer Olympics, which took place before the start of her sophomore season at powerhouse Connecticut.

The Lynx, too, are in flux following the retirement of five-time All-Star point guard Lindsay Whalen, who became coach at her alma mater, Minnesota. They start their season May 25 against Chicago.

WNBA players opt out of CBA, can start negotiating sooner

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NEW YORK (AP) WNBA players have opted out of the current collective bargaining agreement that runs through October 2021.

The players’ union announced the decision Thursday. The current CBA is in effect, but the move allows the players’ union to start negotiating the next CBA now. The new agreement would go into effect for the 2020 season.

The league has seen growth in several areas since the CBA was signed in 2014. Television ratings this season were the league’s best in four years. The 12-team summer league started live streaming games on Twitter and partnered with one-day daily fantasy sites. WNBA players appeared in a video game for the first time.

The union hopes that translates into more money for the players. The top salary in the league was $115,500 this season.

AP source: WNBA’s Stars negotiating sale to Las Vegas buyer

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The San Antonio Stars are in negotiations to be sold and relocated, and a person with knowledge of the situation tells The Associated Press the buyer is based in Las Vegas.

The team announced the discussions on Thursday night. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because neither the team or the WNBA have disclosed information about the buyer.

“Negotiations with a potential buyer of the Stars team are ongoing,” WNBA spokesperson Dina Skokos said in a statement. “Once those discussions are concluded, we will provide additional information.”

The Stars are one of five pro teams owned and operated by Spurs Sports & Entertainment, including San Antonio’s NBA team. The Stars released a statement on Twitter announcing the negotiations and offering their “deepest gratitude” to team employees and fans.

Any sale needs to be approved by the WNBA Board of Governors.

The franchise moved to San Antonio from Utah in 2003. Led by Becky Hammon, the Stars reached the WNBA Finals in 2008. The team has finished with the league’s worst record each of the past three seasons. San Antonio has a talented young nucleus with Kayla McBride, Moriah Jefferson and Kelsey Plum.

The team also has the top chance to get the No. 1 pick in next year’s WNBA draft.

Las Vegas has hosted the world’s biggest boxing and mixed martial arts events for decades, but the growing desert gambling mecca has become a coveted target for professional team sports over the past few years.

The expansion Vegas Golden Knights began their first NHL season this month as the city’s first franchise in a major North American pro sport. In March, the NFL formally approved the Oakland Raiders’ relocation to Las Vegas by the 2020 season to occupy a proposed new stadium on the Las Vegas Strip.