Four-time WNBA All-Star center Liz Cambage announced Monday that she has decided to step away from the WNBA "for the time being," publicly addressing for the first time her midseason "contract divorce" from the Los Angeles Sparks in the heat of the 2022 playoff race.
"While I'll miss rocking the purple and gold, I'll be taking this time to focus on my healing and personal growth before providing clarification on past rumors," Cambage said in an Instagram post. "Thank you to all my supporters, family and friends for all the love and light you continue to surround me with.
Following Cambage's departure on July 26, the Sparks lost eight of their final nine games of the regular season to fall out of playoff contention and finish with the second-worst record in the league. Three-time champion L.A. is now missing the postseason in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1997 and 1998, the league's first two years of existence.
The Sparks will not benefit with a high draft pick, as they traded away their 2023 first-round pick when they acquired Chennedy Carter.
Cambage arrived in L.A., where she had long made clear she wanted to play, this offseason, eager to help return the Sparks to relevance. Head coach Derek Fisher was fired midseason following a 5-7 start, but until their recent skid the team had still managed to stay afloat under interim coach Fred Williams.
Across 25 appearances in 2022, the 6-foot-8 Cambage averaged 13.0 points and 6.4 rebounds in 23.4 minutes per game.
"Playing for the Sparks was a dream come true and I'm honored to have shared the court with such amazing ladies for as long as we did," Cambage said in her post. "I'm sorry to have left abruptly and I wish it would have ended on a different note.... I'm hopeful that the WNBA will do their part in creating safer environments and a stronger support system for their players."
Cambage didn't specify what action she would like to see the league take. The WNBA has recommended practices and guidelines for mental health and wellness for all teams.
The Australian star, who has sat out six WNBA seasons since being drafted second overall in 2011, has been vocal about her mental health and challenges she has faced. Her basketball career also hasn't been without controversy, though. Most recently, she's been accused of using a racial slur directed toward the Nigerian national team and being involved in a physical altercation during a closed-door scrimmage with the Australian national team last year prior to the Tokyo Olympics. Cambage ultimately withdrew from the team shortly before the Games, citing her mental health, while later denying the allegations and proclaiming she had no interest in playing for the Opals again.
Before her arrival in L.A., Cambage also didn't leave her previous two WNBA teams on the strongest of terms, requesting a trade from Dallas one season into a multiyear deal and this past offseason as an unrestricted free agent criticizing how the league allows coaches to be paid significantly more than players. This came shortly after news broke that the Aces were paying new head coach Becky Hammon more than $1 million.
While Cambage's long-term future in the WNBA remains in question, she's built a robust non-basketball portfolio that includes DJing and modeling.