Restricted free agent Gabby Williams has yet to decide whether to play in the WNBA this season after having her contract suspended by French club ASVEL prior to the deadline set by the league's new prioritization rule, according to her agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas.
"The 2023 WNBA season is an option for Gabby, but not a certainty," Kagawa Colas told ESPN's M.A. Voepel. "For now, she's prioritizing her health while taking into account her French national team commitments this summer. From there, we can start to evaluate availability for the WNBA, but as of today we are still a couple of steps away."
Williams suffered a concussion in the first game of ASVEL's matchup with Bourges in the French LFB semifinals and missed the deciding game as ASVEL advanced. She returned from concussion protocol for last Wednesday's Game 1 of the finals against Villeneuve d'Ascq but had her contract suspended prior to Saturday's Game 2 of the series, which ASVEL won 2-1 on Monday to become league champions.
That timing was important because of the WNBA prioritization rule. Had Williams been under contract to a team, she would have been required to report to the club before the regular season started last Friday to avoid having her contract suspended. Because Williams was unsigned, she merely had to "fully complete" any offseason play prior to Friday, though a WNBA spokesperson could not yet confirm her eligibility.
Despite not being under contract, Williams would still be subject to a mandatory fine of 1% of her 2023 salary for each day of training camp missed under the prioritization rule if she signs to play this season.
The Seattle Storm hold Williams' rights as a restricted free agent, and coach Noelle Quinn said prior to Saturday's season-opening loss to the Las Vegas Aces that they remain in contact with Williams about re-signing with the team.
"We are in constant communication with Gabby," Quinn said. "We know that she didn't play. Just kind of staying well aware of the situation. Obviously her health is the most important right now."
Williams, who started all 36 games for the Storm during the 2022 regular season and averaged 7.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.1 assists, previously suffered a concussion during Seattle's first-round victory over the Washington Mystics. Williams missed the first two games of the Storm's semifinals matchup with the Aces before returning as Las Vegas won that series 3-1.
Before being traded to Seattle, Williams was placed on the suspended list by the Chicago Sky and missed the 2021 WNBA season due to her commitments to the French national team leading up to that summer's Olympic Games. France will participate in this year's EuroBasket, held June 15-25 in Israel and Slovenia, although without the need to qualify for the 2024 Olympics by virtue of hosting the Games.
French newspaper L'Equipe reported Sunday that Williams' teammate Marine Johannes will not play in EuroBasket in order to stay with the WNBA's New York Liberty.
Should Williams decide not to play in the WNBA this season, the Storm would maintain her restricted rights next offseason.
ESPN's M.A. Voepel contributed to this report.