Asjha Jones is not expected to play in either of the Connecticut Sun's two games this weekend, coach Mike Thibault said after practice on Wednesday.
Jones, who is recovering from surgery on her left Achilles' tendon in February, participated in parts of Sun practice Wednesday, including fullcourt drills with no defense and "all the shooting drills," Thibault said. But the All-Star forward is far from being ready to play in Friday's game against Atlanta or Sunday's game at home vs. Washington. And Thibault said he doesn't even know if next Thursday's game vs. Minnesota "is in the discussion yet until I see her do more."
"Part of it is getting even leg strength between the two. Part of it is getting her cardio back, which is going to be the hardest part," Thibault said. "We’re probably still sometime next week (away) from doing live 5-on-5 stuff. So I don’t know, we’ll see how that goes. That’s why I’m not putting a timetable (on it). It could be Minnesota, it could be the following week. I just don’t know."
Thibault has taken a cautious approach with Jones after she missed the final 11 games of last season. Even when she returns, the coach plans to put a limit on her playing time, likely keeping her between 15 to 18 minutes early on.
"It’s too long a season to risk everything before she’s ready," Thibault said. "It’s one thing to do what she’s doing (right now). It’s another thing to jump into a crowd and land and turn and pivot and run up the court and then get in a (defensive) stance. I don’t know how many days of that she’ll have to do before she feels comfortable."
Thibault said the possibility of applying to the league for a hardship is still available. With just nine healthy players — Sandrine Gruda won't arrive until early June — the Sun can ask to bring a player in and pay her on a per-day basis. They're currently too close to the salary cap to sign another player outright.
But Thibault said he wouldn't consider that option to after the weekend and it isn't something he's crazy about doing anyway.
"If they tell me Monday she (Jones) is still two weeks away, we might do it," he said. "But right now, to bring somebody in and teach them all the stuff, they’re going to be gone in two weeks anyway. I’m not big on that right now."
Asked if that meant he may lean toward someone like forward Judie Lomax — who was cut before the season opener but already knows a good amount of the playbook — Thibault was noncommittal.
"I'm not leaning toward anything," he said.