The WNBA's normal offseason passes quietly and without incident, much like its regular season, which struggles to draw attention from those without direct involvement or interest. But not this time around.
The league has been thrust in the eye of the mainstream sports tornado by major news stories that have it on the tip of many tongues as their 12 training camps open this weekend across the nation.
Here's a brief look at what's new with the WNBA:
On Friday, WNBA President Laurel Richie announced that Phoenix's Brittney Griner and Tulsa's Glory Johnson, now married, will be suspended for seven games each, without pay, because of the domestic incident that turned physical April 22 in Arizona. This is the first time in history the WNBA has been faced with a high-profile domestic violence case involving its players, and it consulted a number of experts before announcing its decision. During a regular season that's only 34 games, the suspensions constitute about 20 percent of the schedule.
Meanwhile, Madison Square Garden made news by announcing former Knicks coach and president Isiah Thomas, embroiled eight years ago in a sexual harassment suit of Knicks executive Anucha Browne Sanders, had been hired as president of the New York Liberty and given a likely ownership stake in the team. The suit resulted in an $11.6 million settlement. This announcement did not go over well with many in the league, including Connecticut Sun coach Anne Donovan, but on Thursday the WNBA players association released a statement saying membership was willing to give the relationship a chance.
Stephanie White has been promoted from assistant to head coach of the Indiana Fever, replacing Hall of Famer Lin Dunn, who retired after 44 seasons in the sport. Brian Agler left the Seattle Storm to take over the Los Angeles Sparks and was replaced by Jenny Boucek, the former Sacramento coach who was a Storm assistant. And strangely, in New York, Bill Laimbeer was first dismissed and then retained as coach of the Liberty.
Diana Taurasi's decision not to play in the WNBA this season is still rippling across the landscape. But the league will also be without some other notable players, either for the season or just a sliver of it. Janel McCarville (Minnesota) will not play. Lauren Jackson (Seattle) can't play because of another knee surgery. Candace Parker (Los Angeles) isn't sure when she wants to start playing. Chiney Ogwumike (Connecticut), the 2014 rookie of the year, is out indefinitely because of knee surgery. And Shevonte Zellous (Indiana) and Angel Robinson (Seattle) will report late because of commitments to international teams.
Asjha Jones (Minnesota) is back in the league for the first time since 2012. Cappie Pondexter was traded from New York to Chicago for Epiphanny Prince. Renee Montgomery was dealt to Seattle by the Sun for Camelle Little and Shekinna Sticklen. Jasmine Thomas (Connecticut), Shenise Johnson (San Antonio), Quaniitra Hollingworth (Seattle), Karima Christmas (Tulsa), Candice Wiggins (New York) and Monique Currie (Phoenix) are among those on new teams. And Katie Douglas and Becky Hammon are among league icons now retired.