Liz Cambage abruptly terminates contract with Sparks

The addition of Liz Cambage wasn’t just about what she could bring to court. Increased media and fan attention also caught Derek Fisher’s attention as the former Sparks coach and general manager signed the controversial four-time All-Star.

“Will it be great?” Fisher asked at the team’s preseason media day. “Or will it implode?”

It didn’t even take a full season to answer the latter.

Cambage, Fisher’s cherished free-agent signing who has been vocal about LA having always been her ultimate WNBA game destination, abruptly left the Sparks on Tuesday when the team announced a “contract divorce.” The Sparks (12-15) play Thursday in Phoenix, a game crucial for the postseason seeding as the ninth-ranked Mercury (12-16) is just a half-game away from playoff position.

“It is with support that we share Liz Cambage’s decision to terminate her contract with the organization,” Sparks chief executive Eric Holoman said in a statement. “We want the best for Liz and have agreed to part ways amicably. The Sparks remain excited about our core group and are focused on our run to a playoff berth in 2022.”

Cambage averaged 13 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 25 appearances and 24 starts for sixth-ranked Sparks with less than three weeks in the regular season. It’s the 30-year-old’s second-lowest scoring season of her WNBA career, behind only her rookie year when she averaged 11.5 points per game for the Tulsa Shock in 2011.

Interim head coach Fred Williams — who replaced Fisher when he was fired June 7 — said during the season that Cambage struggled with conditioning and faced doubles and trebles. Just when she seemed to be on form with five double-digit goal nights in six games, she was knocked out with COVID-19 on July 14. She missed two games while under health and safety protocols.

This isn’t the first time the former Australia national team star has suddenly dropped a team. Rather than rejoin the Shock after the 2012 Olympics, Cambage announced on the morning of her scheduled flight to the United States that she would miss the remainder of the WNBA season because she was “physically exhausted” from national team duty

In 2021, she withdrew from the Tokyo Olympics less than two weeks before the games, citing mental health concerns. The sudden move comes after Cambage was involved in an incident with members of the Nigeria national team during a closed training session. Cambage was accused of using a racial slur during an outburst after she accidentally fouled a Nigerian player, who Cambage said “physically assaulted” her in retaliation, sparking an altercation between the teams on the sidelines. Cambage denied using the insults and drew support from her Sparks teammates when reports surfaced in May. Liz Cambage abruptly terminates contract with Sparks

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