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WNBA season begins Friday after turbulent offseason

Associated Press

NEW YORK – Domestic violence, absent marquee players and Isiah Thomas lobbying to become a potential owner made for a busy WNBA offseason.

President Laurel J. Richie hopes that with the league’s 19th season beginning today the attention will turn to the play on the court instead of the news off of it. That might be hard to do with some of the offseason problems still unresolved.

Thomas’ ownership application for the New York Liberty is still pending. Richie had hoped to have Thomas’ petition vetted and a decision rendered before the season began, but that wasn’t feasible. The league announced this week that a six-member committee of the WNBA Board of Governors was formed to evaluate his application.

“The committee had their first meeting this week and it was a very good meeting,” Richie said. “We will have a series of meetings and I believe in following the process. I’m committed to the committee doing its due diligence and seeing the process unfold and seeing it through.”

Richie was widely praised for the record seven-game suspension the league handed to Brittney Griner and Glory Johnson for their domestic violence arrests in April. The players, who are married, have until Saturday to appeal it. Johnson has said that she’s going to appeal, although she will miss the upcoming season with the Tulsa Shock after she announced Thursday that she is pregnant.

Griner had said a few weeks ago that she wasn’t planning on appealing, but the All-Star has been hearing from players around the WNBA who would like her to change her mind so that a precedent isn’t set. Even if she does appeal, Griner will start serving the suspension today when her Phoenix Mercury takes on San Antonio.

Richie will be on hand as the Mercury celebrate last season’s title. Griner will be in attendance to get her ring as she was granted an exemption by the league to attend the ceremony.

Diana Taurasi will be there as well, but that may be the only time that the Mercury see her on the court this season. Taurasi announced in the winter that she would skip this season to rest.

Candace Parker also said she will miss at least the first half of the season to rest. Sylvia Fowles asked the Chicago Sky to trade her or she wouldn’t play.

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