In one sense, the news came abruptly. Suddenly, Seimone Augustus is no longer a part of the Lynx lineup, for at least a month, after the five-time WNBA All-Star had arthroscopic surgery on her right knee.
But, really, it wasn’t a surprise. Augustus has been battling knee issues for years. She missed 10 games last year because of it, struggled with it in Europe over the winter. So when the pain in that knee got worse and worse the decision was made to get it taken care of now, rather than later.
Augustus had the procedure done Friday at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, just two days after backup guard Monica Wright had similar surgery.
The Lynx are hoping Augustus can return in mid August.
“We have the mindset that, when we lose a player like Seimone or Monnie, we all have to do a little more,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “We don’t expect just one player to do it. We don’t expect anyone to be Seimone.”
Augustus, 31, had started every game this season at shooting guard, was second on the team in scoring (15.4 points per game) and was third on the team in assists (2.8). She had scored in double figures in all but one game and had the unique ability to create her own shot. Frankly, she probably could have continued playing with the pain. But it wasn’t going to get better, so the decision was to do it now and hope Augustus can return down the stretch of this season.
Anna Cruz, who just joined the Lynx earlier this month, will move into the starting lineup. And while she won’t be able to do all the things Augustus does, her skills might allow Reeve, in at least a limited way, to “make lemonade out of lemons” by altering the team’s sets with Cruz at the point and Lindsay Whalen off the ball. That would force opponents to adjust.
But the bottom line is that it won’t be easy for the Lynx in the coming weeks.
And while Reeve wants everybody to do a little more, she doesn’t want anybody to feel they have to do it all. Not even Maya Moore, whose game has improved steadily the past two weeks. Much of the scoring burden would presumable fall on her.
“Scoring is not a burden, scoring is fun,” Moore said. “It will be a fun challenge to see how we can get everybody involved. But the game plan isn’t changing as far as our identity. We’re going to play defense, run when we can, move the ball on offense.”
With Cruz elevated into the starting lineup, Tricia Liston figures to see her minutes rise. The same goes for rookie Jennifer O’Neill, who played a good bit when the team was shorthanded earlier this season. Fans might even see Devereaux Peters play some small forward. The team could also try to swing a deal to add a player.
But, in the short run, it’s up to everybody to pick up the slack.
“Whatever your job is — rebounding, assisting, scoring — everybody has to do their job a little better, a little harder,” Whalen said.
At least for a while. A mid-August return would mean Augustus could get perhaps nine or 10 games in before the playoffs begin.
“I’ll try to do my best,” Cruz said. “But it’s not justme. Everybody has to do more.”