Three-time MVP Swoopes waived

SEATTLE -- Sheryl Swoopes may have played her last game.

The Seattle Storm waived the three-time WNBA MVP and three-time Olympic gold medalist a day before her 2009 contract would have become guaranteed. Swoopes is 37 and might now pursue something she's talked about since September -- coaching and being a full-time mother.

Coach Brian Agler says the weekend move was made to clear space under the $803,000 salary cap. Lauren Jackson could be leaving soon as an unrestricted free agent. Center Yolanda Griffith, another former league MVP, turns 39 next month after a season in which she had knee and ankle problems.

"It was a very tough decision to release Sheryl," Agler said in a statement provided by the team Tuesday. "Our free-agency priorities, right now, are to secure depth both at the post and point guard positions."

Swoopes won four league championships with Houston before she signed with Seattle 11 months ago as a free agent while recuperating from back surgery. She was then sidelined by a concussion and averaged 7.1 points in 29 games, her career low for a season in which she played at least 10 games.

The Storm were assembled for one big push to a title, with Swin Cash and Sue Bird also on the roster. They finished a franchise-best 22-12 but lost in the first-round of the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season.

"We were fortunate to be able to add Sheryl to our roster last year as her leadership and experience were a key part of our 22-win season," Agler said. "We are thankful for her contributions to the Storm on and off the court and wish her the best as she moves on to the next step in her career."

Since her back surgery in October 2007, Swoopes is averaging less than half her career scoring average of 15.8 points.

She recently moved with her son from Houston to suburban Kirkland, Wash., and spent much of the winter as the face of the Storm. During the holiday season she was ringing bells for the Salvation Army with Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren, Washington basketball coach Lorenzo Romar and other Seattle celebrities in front of a downtown department store.

When the Storm's season ended in September, Swoopes said she felt she had let her team down. She sounded ready to retire after scoring just three points in 21 minutes of her final game.

"I've talked to a few people about coaching," Swoopes said then. "I have a son who is in school here. It is time for me to be a full-time mom."