Lynx star Napheesa Collier and her fiancé, WNBA and NBA skills coach Alex Bazzell, announced Collier's pregnancy to People Magazine on Sunday.
The two, engaged since October 2019, are expecting a baby girl, with a due date in May.
"I am very excited to start a family with my fiancé, Alex,'' Collier, 25, said in a news release sent out by Lynx. "Having a child is truly a beautiful journey and I am grateful to have the support of our families, friends and the Lynx as I begin this special chapter of motherhood.''
Collier's pregnancy will affect how much she can play with the Lynx, if at all, in the 2022 season.
Because of the FIBA World Championships, which are scheduled to start in late September 2022, the WNBA season will start and end earlier than usual, with a schedule that is relatively compressed compared to most seasons. For example, the 2021 Lynx season began May 8 and ended Sept. 19. The WNBA Finals lasted until Oct. 17. The 2022 season will have to end much earlier.
Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said the team will prepare to play without Collier: "I'll let Phee take her time, and try to do the best we can without her.''
Reeve congratulated Collier on the news that she and Bazzell — who counts NBA stars Carmelo Anthony and Kyrie Irving and WNBA star Candace Parker among the players he trains — are expecting.
"On behalf of Lynx players, coaches and staff, I want to share our heartfelt congratulations to Napheesa, Alex and their families,'' Reeve said in the release. "We are eager to support Phee through this exciting journey and look forward to welcoming the newest addition to our Lynx family. Being a parent is an exceptional joy and we wish Phee a healthy pregnancy.''
In three seasons, Collier — a forward who was the sixth overall pick in the 2019 WNBA draft — has already been named Rookie of the Year, played in two All-Star Games and earned a spot on the U.S. Olympic team that won a gold medal in Tokyo last summer.
Collier averaged 16.2 points, 6.6 rebounds 1.3 steals and 1.3 blocks in a league-high 34.6 minutes per game last season.
"We will play to go forward without her, and look forward to her return,'' Reeve said.
The Lynx have worked around a situation like this before. Guard Odyssey Sims gave birth to her son Jaiden in early April of 2020, and was back on the court — in the WNBA bubble in Bradenton, Fla. — with the Lynx four months later.
Every situation is different, of course.
Without Collier, the Lynx will have to find a way to replace her all-around game, her ability to play both forward positions and her consistently elite defense.
Reeve still doesn't know whether veteran center Sylvia Fowles — who is also considering starting a family — will return for the 2022 season.
The Lynx will return Kayla McBride, who averaged 13.7 points last season, and hope to re-sign guard Layshia Clarendon (10.4 points, 5.7 assists). Damiris Dantas should return from the Lisfranc injury to her right foot that ended her 2021 season. Aerial Powers (13.4 points) should be healthy from the start of the season as well.
Another option at forward would be Rennia Davis, the team's first-round draft pick last April out of Tennessee. Davis was having a strong camp before her season was ended by a left foot stress fracture that required surgery.