LOS ANGELES — Liz Cambage was leisurely working up the court docket complaining on Saturday whereas enjoying towards her former crew, the Las Vegas Aces, league sources informed Yahoo Sports. Her condemnation stemmed from not getting sufficient submit touches from her Los Angeles Sparks teammates, which sources shut to the crew say was regular conduct for the four-time WNBA All-Star.
Teammates couldn’t assist however acknowledge Cambage’s discontent, and in return out of annoyance, they started force-feeding her the ball no matter what play was supposed to be run, sources say. After the Sparks’ 84-66 embarrassing blowout loss, Cambage rushed to the locker room to dress for an early exit out of the world after ending with 11 factors and 5 boards in 22 minutes. Prior to departing the locker room, she had a message for her teammates:
“I can not do that anymore. Best of luck to you guys,” she acknowledged earlier than storming out, in accordance to sources with information of her departure.
Her teammates have been shocked on the timing, sources say, however not of the tip outcome.
On Tuesday, the Sparks introduced that they agreed to a “contract divorce” with Cambage, ending her lone season after 25 video games performed with the group.
Cambage couldn’t be reached for remark Tuesday.
Cambage had conflict in WNBA lengthy earlier than stopping in Los Angeles
The 6-foot-8 star was the franchise’s prized offseason acquisition when she signed as a free agent in February. She personally negotiated her one-year, $170,000 deal after parting methods together with her longtime agent Allison Galer.
The Sparks had two cornerstone gamers exit lately in Candace Parker to the Chicago Sky and Chelsea Gray to the Aces. Adding Cambage gave life to a possible championship window with one other dominating large main the best way, related to Lisa Leslie and Parker through the Sparks’ glory days.
Cambage got here with baggage.
She finagled her means from the Tulsa Shock in 2013, the crew that drafted her with the No. 2 total choose within the 2011 WNBA draft. Tulsa retained her rights and later grew to become the Dallas Wings. From 2013-2018, she performed abroad. Cambage requested for a commerce from the Wings in 2019, a 12 months after signing a multiyear contract.
And main up to the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, Cambage — an Australian citizen and member of the Australian nationwide crew — reportedly known as gamers on the Nigerian nationwide crew “monkeys” throughout coaching camp. She withdrew weeks prior to the match, citing psychological well being considerations.
The “monkey” comment couldn’t have been simple for Sparks veterans — Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike — who’re sisters of Nigerian descent and who’re actively interesting FIBA’s denial of their utility to play for the Nigerian nationwide crew.
Derek Fisher, the top coach and basic supervisor of the Sparks till he was fired in June, introduced Cambage to Los Angeles.
Multiple gamers on the crew felt the middle might assist the Sparks if she was targeted and dedicated, however they expressed considerations that she’s recognized to be a participant others don’t love to play with, sources mentioned.
Despite these reservations, Fisher took the star on.
Sparks gamers take problem with crew’s managing of Cambage, and membership’s different points
Before kicking off the 2022 WNBA season, issues had already gotten off to a rocky begin.
Cambage requested to put on the No. 8, however the Sparks knowledgeable her the number could be retired to honor DeLisha Milton-Jones, sources say. So she requested for No. 1, however that number belonged to ahead Amanda Zahui B.
According to sources, Fisher approached Zahui B. about giving the number to Cambage and she politely declined, explaining the number meant quite a bit to her. Cambage nonetheless needed the number. Time glided by, and sources say administration ultimately made the decision to give the number to the brand new beginning heart.
Zahui B. discovered her number was given away by way of social media, sources say.
This strategy ruffled feathers inside the locker room, sources say.
In an unrelated transfer, the Sparks would droop Zahui B. for the 2022 season. According to a crew supply, Fisher was of the understanding that her abroad dedication would have compelled her to miss up to the primary 13 video games and the crew wanted to finalize its roster upfront of the common season. A suspended participant doesn’t obtain a wage that season and the crew retains the participant’s rights.
Over the previous few years, Sparks gamers have complained a couple of lack of management, delegation and accountability from the higher-ups.
In film sessions, sources say it was customary for Cambage to name out teammates, accusing them of wanting her off and not focusing on her. Teammates would counter that she’s not sealing within the submit and hardly ever will get again on protection when a turnover happens. It was a conundrum that was unresolved.
One ongoing crew grievance is the membership’s apply location.
The Sparks apply at Jump Beyond Sports complicated nearly all of the season, and it has been described because the worst apply facility within the league, sources say. Fisher and workers picked this location prior to the season to the dismay of a lot of the gamers, sources say.
“An AAU crew would not need to play there,” one participant mentioned.
Fisher didn’t reply to textual content messaged questions from Yahoo Sports.
This month, the Sparks have held some apply sessions at USC and Crypto.com Arena.
What’s subsequent for Liz Cambage?
Cambage was posting her lowest stats since her rookie season, averaging 13 factors and 6.4 rebounds. She wasn’t voted to the All-Star recreation in Chicago. Cambage was noticed in Las Vegas through the NBA Summer League and later examined optimistic for COVID-19. She missed two video games earlier than returning to play on July 21 towards Atlanta and Saturday towards the Aces. Those could be her final video games for the Sparks.
Where does Cambage go from right here?
There are at present no WNBA groups, sources say. Some consider Cambage will use the down time to give attention to her modeling profession and deejaying, abilities which can be mentioned to be admirable.
One persistent query from WNBA gamers from across the league about Cambage: “If she will’t make it in a locker room stuffed with actual skilled veterans, the place can she make it at?”