Basketball superstar Lauren Jackson remains committed to the Opals’ world title campaign this year following knee and Achilles tendon surgery, but her 2014 WNBA season has been thrown into doubt.
Jackson faces a 16-week recuperation program after returning from the Chinese league to undergo operations in Melbourne on Monday night, repairing a torn meniscus in her right knee and a persistent problem in her left Achilles.
Orthopaedic surgeon David Young believed the surgery would resolve both issues for the increasingly injury-hit 32-year-old.
And Australian coach Brendan Joyce was confident Jackson could return to strong form before the highly-ranked Opals contest the world championships in Turkey in September.
“She’ll have some time to prepare in some games in July on a tour of Japan and then again in August,” Joyce said.
“Dr Young was really happy with how she went. He said she could play until she’s 40.”
However the 16-week recovery period means Jackson won’t be ready to train on court with her Seattle Storm WNBA teammates until early June, or play until July, according to her manager John Elliot.
With the WNBA season tipping off on May 16, Jackson would miss half the season – leaving her immediate future at the club in doubt.
“Seattle will have to make that decision, but I can’t see her getting back to Seattle in the short term,” Elliot said.
“If they’ve got to replace her because she can’t make May 16, they might go out and buy another person to replace her.
“Having her missing, they’d have to consider their options.”
“We’ll just have to see how they want to play it and all that, but she’s totally committed to the Opals program.”
Elliot said he’d spoken to Jackson since the surgery and she was disappointed not to be playing alongside her Heilongjiang teammates in the playoffs of the Women’s Chinese Basketball Association.
Jackson had been in stellar form for the side, averaging 22 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game.
“She’s a little emotional about missing the playoffs,” he said.
“She’s had a tough run. But she just needs to be left alone for a while to recover. She’s an absolute professional, and she’ll come back as good as ever.”
He said Monday’s surgery was in no way related to the chronic hamstring injury that required surgery and cruelled Jackson’s 2013 season.