Skylar Diggins-Smith says she played 2018 pregnant; expresses lack of team support

Dallas Wings guard Skylar Diggins-Smith sounded off on Twitter about what she suggested was a lack of support from the organization.

She also tweeted that she had played while pregnant throughout the 2018 WNBA season but "didn't tell a soul," and then took two full months away from "everything" this past summer because she was dealing with postpartum depression. She added that she had "limited resources to help me be successful mentally/physically."

Diggins-Smith, who turned 29 in August, did not play during the 2019 season, although she was on full salary and was kept on the roster. ESPN reached out to Diggins-Smith's agent for a comment from the player but had not received one by Saturday evening.

The Wings said in a statement that confidentiality and privacy concerns prevented them from commenting on any individual player's issues, but that the team has employed licensed psychologists for all players since the franchise moved from Tulsa to Dallas in 2016.

"These professionals have worked with our players in a team setting, and also have been made available to our athletes on a one-on-one basis," team president and CEO Greg Bibb said Saturday.

Diggins-Smith first tweeted on Friday night: "Having no support from your own organization is unfortunate," but didn't provide any details on what she was referring to.

Then, Saturday afternoon, Diggins-Smith sent out three tweets in a brief stretch.

"The blasts that disrespect of mothers (and our rights) in the WNBA is incredible. I can't wait until you hear my story FROM ME!"

That was followed by:

"People called me a quitter, said I gave up on my team, etc., etc.

"Not knowing I took two FULL months away from everything because of postpartum depression. With limited resources to help me be successful mentally/physically.

"But just wait though....KEEP THAT SAME ENERGY."

And then:

"I played the ENTIRE season pregnant last year! All star, and led league (top 3-5) in MPG....didn't tell a soul."

Diggins-Smith did not indicate on Twitter who the people who called her "a quitter" were.

The 2018 WNBA season began for the Wings on May 18 and ended Aug. 21. Diggins-Smith first publicly announced she was pregnant in October 2018. She then told reporters in Dallas on May 5 that she'd had a son "a few weeks ago," but did not specify a date.

Bibb told media outlets, including ESPN, during the 2019 season that Diggins-Smith was not on any specific timeline to return to the team. The Wings were required by the league's collective bargaining agreement to pay a player on pregnancy leave half their salary, but the organization opted to pay all of it.

"We support our athletes in getting the care they need, whether that's physical or mental in nature," Bibb said in his statement Saturday. "We also understand the serious nature of an individual's mental health.

"Due to the confidentiality associated with seeking mental-health care, unless an athlete provided explicit consent to the psychologist, we are not provided any information regarding individual sessions or related care. As a result of this confidentiality, and out of the respect for privacy, I can't comment on any individual situation."

Diggins-Smith, a star who led Notre Dame to the Women's Final Four three times, was drafted No. 3 overall in 2013 by Tulsa. The franchise has been in Dallas for the past four seasons. Diggins-Smith averaged 17.9 points and 6.2 assists in 2018. In her six-season WNBA career, she has averaged 15.9 points and 4.9 assists; her 2015 season was limited to nine games because of an ACL injury. She is one of eight players who have committed to take part in USA Basketball's multiple training sessions for the women's national team in preparation for the 2020 Olympics. The U.S. squad will face four top college teams in November, starting at Stanford on Nov. 2.

Diggins-Smith is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent in 2020. But under the old CBA terms, she could still be given the "core player" designation instead, which would prevent her from being a free agent for 2020 and guarantee her a max salary with the Wings. However, the WNBA and the players' union are in the process of negotiating a new CBA for 2020 and beyond.

The Wings fired coach Fred Williams, with whom Diggins-Smith was close, late in the 2018 season after he had a confrontation with Bibb. Brian Agler, who has won WNBA titles with Seattle and Los Angeles, took over as Wings coach for 2019. Center Liz Cambage, a contender for league MVP in 2018 for Dallas, insisted on a trade from the Wings, and a deal was made with Las Vegas just before the 2019 season began.

Without Cambage or Diggins-Smith, Dallas went 10-24 this past season, tying New York and just ahead of last-place Atlanta at 8-26. New York will pick first in the April 2020 WNBA draft, Dallas will pick second, Indiana third and Atlanta fourth.