The Sky have suffered what could be a significant blow to their hopes of repeating as Eastern Conference champions.
Center Sylvia Fowles, the 2013 WNBA defensive player of the year, will be sidelined indefinitely after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn hip labrum and impingement of the joint, the team announced Thursday.
Sky spokesperson Lauren Niemara said there is no projected date for Fowles’ return but the team expects her back this season. Niemara said it was a chronic injury, dating back at least to last season, and the decision was made to take care of it now.
The 6-foot-6 Fowles led the league in rebounding and field-goal percentage last season.
Her absence means 6-5 rookie Markeisha Gatling, the Sky’s first-round draft choice Monday, undoubtedly will be counted on more than might have been expected early in the season.
Jessica Breland, a 6-3 power forward whom the Sky signed as a free agent in late March, also figures to get a lot of work with Fowles out.
The Sky open training camp April 27 and play their season opener May 16.
Fowles, 28, heading into her seventh WNBA season, played for Shanghai this winter.
“Although it’s unfortunate, I know Sylvia will attack her rehabilitation with the mindset of returning this season even stronger,” Sky coach and general manager Pokey Chatman said in a release from the team. “Collectively we made a decision in the best interest of Syl’s long-term health and the long-term goals of this franchise.”