Washington Mystics offseason acquisition Tina Charles will sit out the 2020 season due to health concerns surrounding the coronavirus.
Charles was deemed a high-risk individual by the WNBA's independent doctors through a medical evaluation protocol, the center announced in a story in the Players' Tribune. She did not travel to Florida with the team to enter the WNBA's bubble and will maintain her full salary while not playing.
When the WNBA announced that it was moving forward with the 2020 season, and laid out its plans for the bubble, I found myself conflicted.
I was leaning toward playing, but with COVID-19 still taking hundreds of lives each day and the movement for racial justice in this country gaining real momentum, something about playing basketball at a time like this just felt, I don’t know, off.
While I was going back and forth on it, I received a medical questionnaire from the league. In filling it out, I couldn’t help but notice that I was answering questions about potential susceptibility to health issues with more yes’s than no’s due to an existing medical condition. Our team physician noticed, too. And she flagged me as potentially “high risk.”
Charles went on to detail how she has a condition called extrinsic asthma which impacts her immune system and will make it risky to play. She was diagnosed with the condition in 2016 after she couldn't breathe in the middle of playing.
The 6-foot-4 center never reported to the DC market after an offseason trade with the New York Liberty.
Her new teammate Elena Delle Donne was denied such a waiver to opt-out despite having chronic Lyme disease.
Since she has a preexisting condition, Charles will not forgo her salary. The WNBA and WNBPA negotiated for all players with health concerns to be able to receive 100% pay for 2020 and service time for their contracts.
As the 2012 MVP, the Mystics were excited to add Charles when she became available in a trade with New York. Immediately, she signed a one-year deal with DC. She can now enter free agency next year without playing a single game in a Mystics jersey.
Charles marks three players from the league champion officially announcing they will not play this upcoming year. She joins Natasha Cloud and LaToya Sanders in opting-out for the unique season.
Since Charles is being paid and receiving service time, the team is still bound by the salary cap. Those financial constraints prevent Washington from signing another player in her absence. The Mystics will have only 10 players to help defend their title.
The WNBA season is set to begin July 24 in Bradenton, Fla at IMG Academy.
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