Sylvia Fowles cleared to return after knee injury

Sylvia Fowles, the WNBA MVP in 2017, has been cleared to return to play after missing the past five games for the Minnesota Lynx with a cartilage injury in her right knee, the team announced Thursday. She will be available for the Lynx's Thursday matchup against the Phoenix Mercury.

In her 15th and final season in the WNBA, Fowles, the league's all-time leading rebounder, has averaged 16.5 points on a league-best 64.1% shooting as well as 10.3 rebounds across 12 games, making her the sole player averaging a double-double so far this summer.

Fowles, who announced in February she is retiring following the 2022 season, was named a WNBA All-Star co-captain and starter earlier in the week.

The Lynx went 1-4 without Fowles, dropping to 4-13 and last in the WNBA standings without her on the floor. The two-time Finals MVP was one of several Minnesota players who have missed time this season or ended up being cut due to injury. While Napheesa Collier remains out on maternity leave, the team is slowly getting healthy, with Natalie Achonwa, Damiris Dantas and Moriah Jefferson all returning in recent weeks.

With Fowles back in the fold, Minnesota is hoping to extend its 11-year postseason appearance streak, during which it won four WNBA titles in seven seasons, two of which (2015, 2017) were with Fowles. In a corresponding move to Fowles' activation, the Lynx released Nikolina Milic from her hardship contract.