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According to the New York Times‘ Kurt Streeter, the Minnesota Lynx star plans to sit out “so she can continue to push for criminal justice reform and the release of Jonathan Irons, a man she believes is innocent of the crime for which he was sentenced to prison.”
Moore told Streeter: “I’m in a really good place right now with my life, and I don’t want to change anything. Basketball has not been foremost in my mind. I’ve been able to rest, and connect with people around me, actually be in their presence after all of these years on the road. And I’ve been able to be there for Jonathan.”
Lynx head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve issued a statement about the development.
“Over the last year we have been in frequent contact with Maya around the great work in criminal justice reform and ministry in which she is fully engaged,” she said. “We are proud of the ways that Maya is advocating for justice and using her platform to impact social change.”
Moore said she met Irons, who is serving a 50-year sentence for burglary and assault after being tried as an adult at 16, during a trip to the Jefferson City Correctional Center in Missouri in 2017.
The 30-year-old remains one of the WNBA’s biggest stars. A four-time champion and the 2014 MVP, she averaged 18.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.7 steals through her first eight seasons.
By making her decision public now, Moore provides the Lynx with some time to recalibrate their roster if necessary. Teams can officially begin contract negotiations with free agents Jan. 28.
Seimone Augustus and Danielle Robinson are Minnesota’s only free agents, and the 35-year-old Augustus acknowledged after last season that retirement is a possibility. She said in May she was looking to walk away after the upcoming campaign.
Moore’s hiatus is unlikely to change much for the Lynx.
Her absence provided a silver lining, allowing younger players to assume larger roles than they might have otherwise.
Napheesa Collier averaged 13.1 points and 6.6 rebounds while shooting 36.1 percent from beyond the arc en route to winning Rookie of the Year. Lexie Brown was a 38.5 percent shooter from beyond the arc and averaged 7.6 points while excelling as the backup point guard.
Assuming they continue to improve alongside the veteran duo of Odyssey Sims and Sylvia Fowles, an improvement on their 18 wins from 2019 is attainable for the Lynx even without Moore.