Seattle Storm's Sue Bird needs surgery, will be out indefinitely

SEATTLE -- Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird needs arthroscopic surgery on her left knee and will be out indefinitely, another big blow for the defending WNBA champs.

The team said on Tuesday that Bird will soon undergo arthroscopic surgery on her left knee. Doctors will perform the surgery at a hospital in Connecticut before Bird returns for rehab with the Swedish Hospital and the Storm medical team.

“I’m super disappointed to have to miss time with the team this season. There’s nothing I want more than to be on court with my teammates defending our title,” said Bird. “I’ve been down this road before, so now I just have to focus on getting better so I can continue to represent the Storm, the city of Seattle and the ‘Storm Crazies’ in the future.”

In 2018, Bird averaged a career-high 7.1 assists per game and became the WNBA's leader in all-time games played (508). She was also selected to a record 11th WNBA All-Star Game.

“The most important thing to us is that Sue is healthy and strong. Based on her feedback and evaluation from her longtime surgeon and our medical team, it was determined the best course of action was a scope,” said Storm CEO and GM Alisha Valavanis. “We have confidence this will support Sue’s full recovery and we look forward to her return to the court.”

Bird did not play in either of Seattle's preseason games.

This will be the second time in her Seattle career Bird has been sidelined by knee problems for most, if not all, of a WNBA season. She missed the 2013 season after undergoing surgery to remove a cyst from her left knee.

Bird won her third WNBA title last season at age 37 after helping Seattle to a three-game sweep of Washington in the league finals. But it was Game 5 of the Western Conference finals that will be remembered as perhaps Bird's best game as a professional. She scored 14 of her 22 points in the fourth quarter as Seattle rallied to oust Phoenix.

"It happened so recently you don't want to get too high on something that was recent, but when it's all said and done I'm pretty sure that will be the defining moment of my career," Bird said recently, prior to news of her knee problem.

Stewie out for the season

Earlier this year, the team said Breanna Stewart would miss the entire season after undergoing surgery to repair a ruptured right Achilles.

Stewart suffered the injury while playing for Russian club Dynamo Kursk on Sunday in the EuroLeague Women championship game in Hungary.

She appeared to land awkwardly on the foot of fellow WNBA star Brittney Griner after attempting a jumper late in the first half against UMMC Ekaterinburg. She immediately grabbed her lower right leg while grimacing in pain.

Stewart was attended to by trainers on the court before being helped to the locker room.

The 24-year-old Stewart won four national titles at UConn and was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 WNBA draft. She won both the league and finals MVP awards while leading the Storm to the franchise's third WNBA title last season.

Stewart has played overseas in the offseason since she joined the WNBA.

The status of head coach Dan Hughes is also uncertain. Hughes underwent surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in his digestive tract.

The Storm open the season hosting Phoenix on Saturday.