Lauren Jackson’s fans in her home country are now getting a taste of what Seattle Storm faithful endured last spring when her future with the team seemed to be in limbo. Jackson, who had plans to play for Spartak Moscow this winter, has not yet arrived in Russia. She went to Australia to recover from back injuries after the WNBA season and now the Australian WNBL is wooing the star.
Further complicating matters is the death of flamboyant Spartak owner Shabtai Kalmanovich earlier this month. While the team is continuing under the guidance of Kalmanovich’s widow, former basketball player Anna Arkhipova, the Australian government, the WNBL and others are working on keeping Jackson at home.
According to the WNBL, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) government pledged $50,000 AUD towards efforts to convince her to play with the Canberra Capitals. Jackson has indicated on several occasions that she would someday like to play in the WNBL again.
While her Australian agent Bruce Kaider indicates she has plans to honor her Spartak commitment, he did not rule out the possibility of her returning to the WNBL.
“Lauren is still contracted to play with Spartak in Moscow and at this point her intention is to fill her contractual obligation,” said Kaider according to the WNBL. “But if the circumstances change in Russia we would certainly look at opportunities in Europe and in Asia and, of course, in the WNBL.”
“Lauren loves Canberra and she has enjoyed great success there so if the financial support could be generated it would certainly be a proposition we would investigate.”
Canberra Capitals and Australian Opals head coach Carrie Graf is pushing for support to lure Jackson to the WNBL.
“We’re talking about having the best female basketball player in the world returning to the Australian domestic competition to represent Canberra and that excites me,” said Graf according to the WNBL. “If things change in Russia and Lauren goes on the open market she will be the hottest free agent in the global game and contract offers will come thick and fast.”