Sky forward Jantel Lavender undergoes foot surgery, won’t play in 2020

The Sky will miss Lavender’s on-court presence and veteran leadership. She averaged 10 points and 6.9 rebounds and started 22 of 23 games last season.

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Sky forward Jantel Lavender will miss the season after having surgery on her left foot, the team announced Tuesday night.

Lavender, who is in the final year of her contract, had the same surgery last August. She’ll be paid her full salary of $117,000 for the season.

This is a huge loss to the Sky, who will miss Lavender’s on-court presence and veteran leadership. Lavender averaged 10 points and 6.9 rebounds and started 22 of 23 games last season.

To make matters worse, the Sky were forced this offseason to trade forward Astou Ndour, who seamlessly stepped up in place of Lavender for the second half of last season and in the playoffs.

Expect forwards Cheyenne Parker and Azura Stevens to carry a bulk of Lavender’s load.

Parker was a force to be reckoned with off the bench last season, averaging 8.8 points and 5.8 rebounds. Meanwhile, Stevens, whose 2019 season ended prematurely because of a foot injury that required surgery, is viewed as a cheaper alternative for Ndour with similar skills.

Coach James Wade also might turn to eighth overall pick Ruthy Hebard. The former Oregon star averaged 17.3 points on a career-best 68.5% shooting and 9.6 rebounds last season.

Lavender’s news comes after the Sky lost backup point guard Sydney Colson, who tested positive for the coronavirus. The team signed former Rider University star Stella Johnson to replace her Monday.

Sky players returned to Chicago over the last week to undergo physicals and start individual and small-group workouts in preparation for their 22-game season, which will start in late July at the IMG Academy campus in Bradenton, Florida.

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