Washington Mystics center Shakira Austin underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in her hip and will be sidelined for four-to-six months, the team announced Friday. The timeline puts the former No. 3 overall pick in doubt for the start of the 2024 WNBA season.
"Just a lil razzle dazzle to my testimony," Austin wrote on Instagram. "God has taught me alot about myself throughout this process, but more importantly that I've always been built for it. Cant nobody stop me BUT ME. And if you know my story, you know what's at the end of this journey. I promise you I won't come back the same Kira."
Austin's sophomore campaign was off to a strong start last summer before she suffered a hip strain in the team's loss to the New York Liberty on June 25. After deflecting a pass in the fourth quarter of that game, Austin was chasing down the loose ball when she suddenly stumbled and collapsed to the ground holding her leg. Initially expected to miss three weeks, she was out for nearly two months before a short-lived return.
In just her sixth game back in action, a loss to the Las Vegas Aces on Aug. 31, Austin took a hard fall under the basket after getting fouled by Kiah Stokes. She went back to the locker room and did not play again the rest of the season, including the Mystics' first-round playoff series against the Liberty.
While the schedule for the 2024 WNBA season has not yet been released, opening night figures to be sometime in mid-May. In the best case scenario, Austin could be back on the court in April and perhaps ready to go for training camp. However, given the seriousness of the injury, there's a good chance the team plays it safe and we won't see her until after the season begins.
Regardless, this is tough news for both Austin and the Mystics. Major hip injuries are among the most difficult to recover from, and there's no telling how this could affect Austin's athleticism and two-way ability. Early last season she looked like one of the most promising young players in the league, and a building block for a Mystics team that was already facing some big-picture roster questions this offseason.
Austin's injury is just one more variable that Eric and Mike Thibault will have to contend with as they look ahead to 2024.