The skidding Chicago Sky have some much-needed reinforcement on the way. Forward Candace Parker is expected to return to the court after missing all but one game with an ankle injury, head coach James Wade said Tuesday.
“We feel like she will [play Wednesday]," Wade told reporters on a Zoom call. "She was able to practice today and she looked pretty good. Of course, there’s a lot of timing and rhythm things that will take time. But she’s Candace Parker.”
The Wednesday game against the Indiana Fever would be Parker's hometown debut at Chicago's Wintrust Arena after joining the team in free agency. The team officially upgraded her status to questionable.
The Sky brought Parker home in the biggest move of free agency after she spent 13 seasons with the Los Angeles Sparks and won a WNBA title, MVP and most recently the Defensive Player of the Year award.
Parker out with ankle injury suffered in shootaround
Parker had 16 points, eight rebounds, four assists, three blocks and one steal in 25 minutes during her Sky debut on May 15. The Sky dropped the Washington Mystics, who are themselves without a former MVP in Elena Delle Donne, by a 70-56 final.
The 14th-year veteran suffered a minor ankle sprain during shootaround ahead of their game against the Atlanta Dream. Chicago won, 85-77, as Parker sat out of precaution. Despite rehab "around the clock," she wrote on Instagram, she was unable to play in the home opener as her ankle was still severely bruised.
Wade has repeatedly told reporters he won't rush the star back since it's a long season. In that span the Sky have lost seven straight and sit near the bottom of the standings while three of five starters missed time.
Sky struggle without Parker
It's been a tough for the Sky, an early favorite to make the WNBA Finals up against the Las Vegas Aces. Parker has missed all but the two games and sharp-shooter Allie Quigley was also out with a hamstring issue.
Quigley returned late last week as did Stefanie Dolson, who spent time away from the team while competing with the 3x3 Team USA squad that qualified for the Olympics.
Chicago ranks second-to-last in points per game (75.9), last in field goal percentage (.383) and last in offensive rating (92.6). Defensively they rank second at 95.3.
The trouble started against the New York Liberty (5-4), which surged out of the gates, and a rematch against the Dream. Both contests were within eight points. But then the Sparks (4-3), Parker's longtime club, defeated them by double digits to get their first win and won two more times.
Late collapses and opponents' heroics haven't helped their skid. Kia Nurse hit a half-court buzzer-beater to life the Phoenix Mercury over the Sky in the final millisecond. The Mercury won again in overtime days later.
A match-up against the cellar-dwelling Indiana Fever (1-9) at home with Parker back could help right the ship as the league closes its first third of the schedule. The game is a Commissioner's Cup contest airing on CBS Sports Network at 8 p.m. ET.
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