Already missing guard Sue Bird, the Seattle Storm will be marching through their first preseason game without Breanna Stewart.
The team cited rest as the reason for her absence.
It was the latest blow for the Storm, which began training camp without Bird. The nine-time WNBA All-Star underwent a left knee scope last month and was unavailable for the game at Key Arena against the Phoenix Mercury.
“My knee is doing well,” Bird said. “I just have to do the rehab and take it step by step,” Bird said. “I started to do more contact stuff. I’ve been on the court now for probably a week. … Just progressing the way I need to be. I don’t really have a timetable (on a return). It’s just kind of how I feel.”
Bird isn’t likely to play in Sunday’s exhibition finale at Phoenix, but she hasn’t ruled out a return in time for the May 13 regular-season opener at Los Angeles against the defending WNBA champion.
Resting Stewart is an ominous sign for the 6-foot-4 forward who sprained her posterior cruciate ligament in her right knee on Jan. 7 while playing for the Shanghai Baoshan Dahua in the Women’s Chinese Basketball Association.
Stewart, the 2016 Rookie of the Year winner who 18.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists last season, warmed up on the KeyArena court before Wednesday’s game.
However, third-year forward Ramu Tokashiki started in place of Stewart alongside guard Jewell Loyd, forward Alysha Clark and center Crystal Langhorne. Free agent guard Jennifer O’Neill replaced Bird in the starting lineup.