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Las Vegas Aces guard Kelsey Plum will miss the 2020 WNBA season after undergoing successful surgery on her left Achilles tendon, the team announced Thursday.
Plum shared the news of the Achilles tear on social media Thursday afternoon. The fourth-year guard, coming off an impressive 2019 postseason in which she averaged 15.2 points and 7.8 assists per game, signed a two-year contract extension with the Aces last month. The surgery was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who repaired Breanna Stewart’s ruptured Achilles tendon last April, in Los Angeles.
“We found out over the weekend,” Aces general manager Dan Padover told The Next. “I spoke with her right after it happened. [Head coach and president of basketball operations] Bill [Laimbeer] called her right after I got off with her.
“I think more than anything, she just couldn't wait to start the season and start playing again,” Padover said. “She had a really good time with USAB this offseason. Like any gamer, she couldn't wait to start playing. When I talked to her, she was pretty level-headed about it and was already starting to march forward.”
The Aces were positioned to contend for a championship in 2020 after last season’s trip to the semifinals, and Plum was poised for a breakout season. In addition to returning the top six players from the 2019 rotation, Laimbeer added six-time All-WNBA forward Angel McCoughtry in free agency this offseason. With the news of Plum’s injury and surgery, expect the Aces to fill their vacant roster spot.
“We're gonna add a player,” Padover said. “We're in the process now of figuring out what would put us in the best position. Even before that, we were gonna add somebody at some point. This is probably expediting it. But either way, we were already marching down that path.”
Veteran point guard Danielle Robinson, signed earlier this offseason, may take on a bigger role in 2020. Two-year pro-Lindsay Allen is also back with the club. The Notre Dame alum missed the 2019 season after undergoing offseason knee surgery.
While those two can fill in more running the point, Padover also pointed to the versatility of the likes of McCoughtry, Jackie Young, Kayla McBride, and Dearica Hamby, who can all play multiple positions.
The Aces previously may have been in more of a position to fill their 12th spot with more of a long-term project. Now, Padover and Laimbeer may focus more on a veteran that they believe can help them in the 2020 season.
“I think before, we probably had more of a luxury to look at a developmental-type player, whereas now we might be sort of leaning toward somebody a little more established,” Padover said. “Bill and I are always really patient. There wasn't really a rush to add anyone. And there still isn't as of today.”
Padover indicated that Plum will remain on the 2020 roster, leaving the team’s current roster count at 11. The Aces are the lone WNBA team with a vacant roster spot after last month’s cut down date.
Thursday’s news was a gut punch to the franchise and the fan base they’re working to build in Las Vegas. So much of what they’ve done in their first two years in Sin City has been pointing to this moment—the 2020 season, year three in Laimbeer’s three-year plan.
As teams and fans alike wait for updates on the status of the 2020 WNBA season, the Aces are confident that Plum will attack the rehabilitation process and return to action in 2021.