Shyla Heal's bombshell move amid WNBL furore surrounding father

The WNBL investigation into Shane Heal has prompted point guard daughter Shyla to make a bold switch.

Shyla and Shane Heal are pictured together after a WNBL game.
Sydney Flames point guard Shyla Heal will join the Townsville Fire in the WNBL, with Flames coach and father Shane under investigation by the team. (Photo by Morgan Hancock/Getty Images)

The Sydney Flames have confirmed they've released Shyla Heal as her father, team coach and Australian basketball great Shane Heal remains under investigation by the WNBL side. Both the Flames and Shane Heal have chosen not to disclose the reason for the investigation into the former Boomers star, who has been coaching the side since 2021.

Shyla is set to switch teams to the Townsville Fire this week, having flown to Perth pre-emptively to join the side for their clash against the Perth Lynx. She will be eligible to play finals for the third-placed Fire if she plays in all seven of the team's remaining regular season games.

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Very little detail about the investigation has been offered by either Shane, Shyla or the Flames since both Heals were listed as 'unavailable' for a clash against the Southside Flyers on January 22. In a post on Shyla's Instagram story on Tuesday evening, she wrote 'some endings lead to better', the cryptic remark still offering little insight as to what was happening at the Flames.

Shyla Heal, pictured here in action for the Sydney Flames.
Shyla Heal in action for the Sydney Flames. (Photo by Kelly Barnes/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Shane has been absent from the Flames' previous three matchups, having been listed as 'unavailable to coach'. Shyla was listed as being out for 'personal reasons'.

Shane made a surprise recent appearance on News Corp's The Basketball Show, which he hosts alongside Jo Healy. Asked about what was happening, Shane indicated he couldn't reveal much about whatever the investigation was about.

“I’m doing very well. Thank you for caring," he said when asked if he was faring okay. Shy’s doing well and hopefully you’ll see her soon too.

“I’m getting messages from journos all over the place. I’m sure, at some stage, that’ll come out but, right now, you know I can’t say anything. I can’t say anything, my hands are tied. At some stage I’ll be able to talk.”

The Flames released a brief statement on Wednesday confirming Shyla had left the club. "The Sydney Flames and Shyla Heal have agreed to a mutual release for the remainder of the 22-23 WNBL season," the statement read.

"The club has cleared the way for Shyla to seek other playing opportunities. The Flames would like to thank Shyla for her contribution to our club over the past two seasons and wish her all the best in her future endeavours."

Shane and Shyla Heal, pictured here at the Women's Basketball World Cup official draw in 2022.
Shane and Shyla Heal at the Women's Basketball World Cup official draw in 2022. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images for FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2022)

Shane Heal unable to offer details in Sydney Flames investigation

Heal is in his second season coaching the Flames, who sit in seventh place on the ladder with four wins from their 16 games. A WNBL spokesperson told AAP the Flames had not been required to elaborate on the nature of Heal's absence to the league.

Shyla joined her father at the Flames after spending the 2020 pandemic-interrupted season with the Fire. She had previously spent just four games in the WNBA before being cut by the Chicago Sky, who had selected her with the eighth pick in the 2021 draft.

After playing just 31 minutes for the Sky across four games, getting a delayed start after being held up by visa issues, Shyla was traded to Dallas and subsequently cut just moments before the Sky were due to head out on the road. She returned to Australia and joined the Fire, before subsequently signing a three-year deal with the Flames to join with Shane.

Having earned a handful of Opals selections already, the 21-year-old Shyla was named in the extended 2023 Opals squad, which features the likes of Cayla George, Tess Madgen and WNBA star Ezi Magbegor.

With AAP

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