Power forward Brunson happy to be a Lynx for life
MINNEAPOLIS — Seimone Augustus knows what she would do if teammate Rebekkah Brunson ever were to leave the Minnesota Lynx.
Augustus needn’t worry.
Brunson, 32, one of the top rebounders in WNBA history, is sticking around. The 6-foot-2 power forward likely will finish her career in a Lynx uniform after signing a multiyear contract extension over the weekend. Although the Lynx don’t reveal contract terms, multiyear deals from the team typically have been for three years.
An 11-year veteran, Brunson makes the WNBA’s veteran maximum salary of $107,500.
“I’m sticking around, and I’m really happy about that,” Brunson said. “We’re excited about what we’ve done and what’s in store in the years to come.”
Brunson, who ranks No. 7 all time in WNBA rebounding, is in the playoffs for the seventh time in her career and fourth in a row with the Lynx. Selected by Minnesota in the WNBA dispersal draft in late 2009, she played her first six seasons with Sacramento, winning a league championship in 2005 before the Monarchs folded in 2009.
She played a key role in Lynx championships in 2011 and ‘13 and is convinced another is there for the taking when they begin their title defense Thursday against San Antonio in Game 1 of the best-of-three Western Conference semifinals at Target Center. Minnesota (25-9) is the No. 2 seed in the West behind Phoenix (29-4), which set a regular-season league record for victories.
Brunson never doubted the Lynx would get back to the playoffs. And she knew the right knee that was surgically repaired on May 13, an injury that forced her to miss the first 23 games of the season, would respond when healthy.
“It’s tough to watch, but you have to be patient,” the former Georgetown star said. “I understand the healing process. While I was healing, I helped from the sideline and got in the players’ ears a bit.”
Minnesota was 8-3 in Brunson’s 11 games to end the regular season.
In her season debut on July 22, she had 17 points and 12 rebounds in a double-overtime victory over Atlanta. She has a Lynx franchise-record 43 double-doubles and 69 for her WNBA career. Since her return, she is averaging 7.2 points and 8.1 rebounds.
Augustus said retaining Brunson is a sign from Lynx management that it wants to keep its starting lineup intact. The Lynx start four all-stars: Brunson, Augustus, Lindsay Whalen and Maya Moore, the likely most valuable player in the WNBA this season. The fifth starter, center Janel McCarville, was the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2005.
“The window of opportunity is still very wide open for us,” Augustus said. “There’s still a lot of success left for this franchise as long as we have the core group of players still intact.”
Brunson’s absence when she was injured was noticeable.
Her replacement in the starting lineup was rookie Damiris Dantas, who led the Lynx in rebounding in just four of those first 23 games. Dantas, who left the team last week to deal with a personal matter at home in Brazil, averages six points and 5.1 rebounds. She is not expected to return in time for the first round of the playoffs.
“I’ve really been blessed in my career,” Brunson said. “Once in a lifetime, a player gets the opportunity to play for great fans, great teammates and a great coach. I’ve had that twice. It doesn’t come around all the time, and I am aware of it.”
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