Mystics’ Elena Delle Donne had back surgery last Friday, expected to be ready for season

1:20 PM ET


CloseMechelle Voepel covers the WNBA, women’s college basketball, and other college sports for espnW. Voepel began covering women’s basketball in 1984, and has been with ESPN since 1996.

Elena Delle Donne, the 2019 WNBA MVP for the league champion Washington Mystics, had back surgery last Friday in Dallas, the team announced Wednesday.

The team referred to the procedure as “minor” and said Delle Donne is expected to be ready for the start of the 2020 season. The Mystics open May 16 versus the Los Angeles Sparks on ESPN.

Delle Donne, 30, was diagnosed with three herniated disks during the WNBA Finals in October. After having to leave Game 2, she was able to return for Games 3, 4 and 5, as the Mystics won their first title. But Delle Donne acknowledged she was in a lot of pain.

Delle Donne averaged 19.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 2019 while winning her second WNBA MVP honor. She also became a member of the 90/50/40 “club,” as she shot 97.4 percent from the line, 51.5 from the field, and 43.0 from 3-point range.

She also is part of a group of eight WNBA players who committed to training and playing for the United States in preparation for the 2020 Olympics, but so far, she has not been able to be with the team. She won a gold medal in the 2016 Olympics with the U.S. squad, which will be seeking it seventh consecutive gold at the Tokyo Games.

In November, she missed USA Basketball’s four college exhibition games and the Olympic pre-qualifying tournament in Argentina. She missed Monday’s exhibition versus UConn, and will be out for Team USA’s exhibition Sunday at Louisville and an Olympic qualifying tournament in Belgrade, Serbia (Feb. 6-9).

The U.S. already has qualified for the Tokyo Games in July, but is taking part in the qualifying tournament so the team gets more time to train together.

The U.S. team also will have a three-day camp in Chicago during NBA All-Star weekend in mid-February, plus expects to have training sessions in New Orleans during the Women’s Final Four in early April, and at a location to be announced in late April or early May before the WNBA season starts. It remains to be seen if Delle Donne will be ready for the latter two training sessions.

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