Elena Delle Donne will probably miss the Washington Mystics' upcoming two games this weekend and her status for the remainder of the season is unknown.
That is the latest update head coach Mike Thibault provided as the team returned to its home facilities after a two-game road trip featured back-to-back losses to the Minnesota Lynx and Seattle Storm.
"She's probably not going to play at all this weekend and I'm not sure about the rest of the year yet, I don't know yet," Thibault said after Thursday's practice. "Not great improvement."
Delle Donne has not played with the team since Aug. 26, her third game back from recovery on two back procedures in the last two years. Before the road trip, there was optimism that the two-time MVP would be able to return at some point in the near future. She was practicing and going through some moderate work at the facility. The team just did not want a cross-country trip to jeopardize her full recovery process.
Once the team returned home, however, there was unwelcome news waiting. And now Delle Donne is not practicing.
"A little bit of setback and part of it is the referred pains that she had earlier when - not just the back, but it affects the nerves in your leg and all that kind of stuff and so that's been part of the problem," Thibault said.
Delle Donne left her third game after a play under the basket against the Dallas Wings where she tweaked her back. Something did not feel right and, at the time, Delle Donne did not play due to what was called "precautionary reasons." She has not suited up for a game since.
All season the Mystics have been waiting for their best player to see the court. Washington was hoping it could endure the strains of a limited roster throughout the season and finish strong, making a push to the playoffs. A full roster would showcase two former MVPs in Delle Donne and Tina Charles, WNBA All-Star Ariel Atkins and other key pieces from their championship squad.
The playoffs are still an option for Washington, which at 10-18 is only a half-game behind the New York Liberty (11-18) for the final spot with a game in hand. But it's looking more and more likely the home stretch will happen without their franchise player.