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September 24, 2008 at 8:35 PM

Lauren Jackson returning?

The Storm may need an entire new starting frontline for the 2009 season. Two-time MVP Lauren Jackson is an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and there is a possibility she will not re-sign with the team. She joins veteran Yolanda Griffith and little-used rookie Kristen O’Neill as the only unrestricted free agents on the roster.
Storm vet Janell Burse (shoulder, foot) is questionable to return to the WNBA at all, according to talks earlier this season, currently preparing to play in Russia.
Jackson did buy property in Seattle this year and has said Phoenix would “probably” be the only other WNBA city she’d play for. But the Storm can’t core the 6 foot 5 Australian because it used that designation on G Sue Bird and Burse last year. Burse’s designation dissolved when the Storm suspended her upon not returning in April. Bird’s sticks for the upcoming season and under the new collective-bargaining agreement, only one player can be “cored” by a team.
The Aussie, Seattle’s leading scorer (20.2) and rebounder (7.0), said recently that having surgery allowed her to spend some needed time at home to reflect about her career. But the draining year-round play may have her thinking about taking some time off during the summer. Jackson still plans to leave next week for play in Russia with Bird. And as for playing in the 2012 Games in London, Jackson said so much has happened that she can’t think that far ahead.
She did not have her “final” session with Seattle media today. I’ll have more information if she still talks on Thursday. Jackson, who was drafted by Seattle No. 1 overall in 2001, could make a verbal commitment to the team to return, but free agency doesn’t open until Dec. 15.
When asked if her close friend would be back, Bird only said, “hope so, I hope so,” with a soft smile.

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