Candace Parker says return to the court for another WNBA season relies on 'big if'

Candace Parker indicated her future in the WNBA has yet to be determined in two separate interviews Thursday.

The 37-year-old missed the second half of the 2023 season with the Las Vegas Aces due to a foot fracture that required surgery in June. Parker joined the Aces during free agency in January with two titles under her belt. Last month, she watched the team go back-to-back and secure her third championship as she provided mentorship from the bench.

While promoting a documentary about her life, the two-time MVP was asked multiple times about a return to the court. Based on her answer, it will depend on her health:

"I'll weigh my options. If I feel really, really good, then I'll play," she told The Associated Press on Thursday. "That's a big if. I've got to get my foot right. My foot was really bad last year. I don't want to cheat the game or cheat myself."

She made 18 appearances for the Aces and was in pain for each of them. She didn't decide to get an MRI until she suffered a different injury, leading to the discovery that her foot was "89% fractured." Parker spent a little over two months on a scooter and she is just now seeing some relief.

"Every day my foot doesn't feel great walking," she added. "I continue to rehab and stuff. I can't play in pain. It makes the game not fun. I realized on Halloween that I want to take my kids trick-or-treating. I don't want to be sitting in the car because I can't walk."

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JUNE 26: Candace Parker #3 of the Las Vegas Aces warms up before a game against the Indiana Fever at Michelob ULTRA Arena on June 26, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Aces defeated the Fever 88-80. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Candace Parker, who won her third title with the Las Vegas Aces this season, could retire. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

In her perspective, playing another season could mean risking a lifetime of uncomfortable physical activity. As a mother of two, Parker doesn't want to take that gamble. She said she also loves playing beach volleyball, something she won't be able to do if she sustains a lingering injury.

In a separate interview with Robin Roberts of “Good Morning America" on Thursday, she elaborated on her thought process:

“If I’m healthy, I’m gonna play,” Parker said. “But I’m not gonna play in pain anymore. It’s too important — the trick-or-treating, the crossing over my kids, it’s too important. If I’m healthy, I’m gonna play.”

Parker prepared fans for her potential retirement over a year ago. At the time, she was in the final year of her contract with the Chicago Sky — her hometown team. She'd just won a WNBA championship with them in 2021. In May 2022, she said she would be treating the 2023 season as her final one in the league.

Earlier that year, Parker was asked about her excitement to welcome young stars like Aliyah Boston, Caitlin Clark and Paige Bueckers to the WNBA. “Yes, I’ll be watching from the sideline,” she reportedly said.

Parker echoed that sentiment Thursday in conversation with Roberts:

"The game of basketball is in amazing hands regardless," she said. "The level that these young ladies are taking the game to is exciting."

Luckily, she has a successful broadcasting career that will keep her close to the game either way.