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The WNBA draft will probably be a digital occasion this yr.

The league introduced Thursday that its draft will nonetheless be held April 17 as initially scheduled, however with out gamers, followers or media in attendance as a result of coronavirus pandemic.


“The WNBA draft is a time to have a good time the distinctive athletes whose exhausting work and goals are realized with their picks within the draft,” WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert stated. “Safeguarding the well being and well-being of our prospects, gamers, staff, and everybody linked to our recreation in addition to most of the people is paramount.”

Logistics of the draft are nonetheless being labored out with ESPN though Engelbert confirmed she would announce the picks that night time on the league’s broadcast associate’s community. She simply is not certain the place she’ll be doing it from; it could possibly be her home, the league places of work or one other location.

The New York Liberty have the No. 1 decide and are anticipated to draft Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu, who gained the AP girls’s faculty basketball participant of the yr earlier this week.

“Every little thing continues to be the identical because it was earlier than so far as the thrill goes of getting the No. 1 decide,” Liberty common supervisor Jonathan Kolb stated in a cellphone interview. “We’re nonetheless ready for directives from the league so far as conflict room and issues like that and the way the draft will work.”

The commissioner, who’s starting her first full season this yr after beginning the job halfway by means of final yr, stated that the league will honor Alyssa Altobelli, Gianna Bryant and Payton Chester on the draft. The youngsters had been among the many 9 individuals who died within the helicopter accident on Jan. 26, together with Kobe Bryant. Engelbert stated the league additionally plans to honor the previous NBA star on the draft and in the course of the upcoming season.

The digital draft is the one certainty Engelbert has in regards to the upcoming season that’s scheduled to start on Could 15.

She stated the league has mentioned a wide range of situations which can be contingent on the pandemic. Two WNBA cities are main scorching spots for the virus: New York and Seattle. The Las Vegas on line casino the place the Aces play is shut down as is the Connecticut Solar’s house area.

“There are a myriad of logistics concerned from the beginning of coaching camp to the tip of season,” stated Engelbert, who handled the monetary meltdown within the late 2000s when she was with Deloitte, an accounting group that works with Fortune 500 corporations. “All the time the primary guideline is the well being of the gamers, followers and staff. We aren’t taking any situation of the season off the desk, together with the tip of the season on Could 15.”

Whereas it appears unlikely right now the league will begin on Could 15 due to the virus, Engelbert did say that the WNBA may start its season earlier than the NBA or different sports activities leagues resume.

“A league of our measurement and scale is smaller than different massive leagues,” she stated. “We’d have the ability to tip this season off earlier than another leagues since we solely have 12 groups and 144 gamers.”

The postponement of the 2020 Olympics additionally offers the WNBA some flexibility with its schedule, if the season does not begin on time. The league was going to go on month-long hiatus beginning July 10 to permit gamers to take part within the Tokyo Video games.

“We had been already situation planning round what our season would appear to be if we performed video games throughout our month hiatus,” she stated. “We’ve a bonus right here to make use of that point. We’re already area availability and how you can get broadcasts of our recreation in that interval.”

Engelbert can also be exploring a bunch of different potentialities.

“Every single day brings new info, we’re not locking in, taking something off the desk,” the commissioner stated. “It is untimely to do this. We’re following the course of public officers, state, native.”