June 18, 2020 

Renee Montgomery opts out of 2020 WNBA season

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Veteran guard will sit out to focus on social justice

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Atlanta Dream guard Renee Montgomery (21) during the WNBA game between the Atlanta Dream and the Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Connecticut, USA on July 19, 2019. Photo Credit: Chris Poss

As announced on her Twitter this morning, Atlanta Dream guard Renee Montgomery has chosen to opt out of the 2020 WNBA season.

The WNBA announced their plan for the 2020 season earlier this week and the season is set to begin with training camp in Bradenton, Fla. at IMG Academy in early July. Players have the option to opt out either for health reasons or other personal reasons, and Montgomery has chosen to exercise that option.

Speaking with media Tuesday, Atlanta general manager Chris Sienko said the team was not yet aware of any Dream players that were planning to sit out, but coach Nicki Collen made it clear the franchise would support any players who did so.

“I don’t think anyone should be surprised when there are players in this league that choose to opt out,” Collen said. “We have to be prepared, I think, as a league, as a franchise, to support players with what they’re comfortable with right now.”

Added Sienko: “It’s not just about the pandemic. It’s about the social justice. There’s a lot of things that are on players’ minds today. It’s not just about COVID. It’s a myriad of issues and we want to make sure we’re supportive of whatever is important to our athletes.”

Montgomery is one of the Dream’s four players returning from last year, and her decision likely means Atlanta will look to bring in someone to fill her spot. With her 11 years of experience in the league, Montgomery choosing not to play is a loss for Atlanta from an experience perspective.

Last season, she started every game for Atlanta and averaged 9.5 points and 2.6 assists in 27.9 minutes per game. In her absence, the Dream will be looking for a point guard, ideally with some experience, to fill that gap. Chennedy Carter, the team’s first-round draft pick, will be relied upon to handle even more of the playmaking load from day one of her career.

Players have until June 25 to notify their teams of their intention to sit out, so it’s possible that more Atlanta players will opt out in the coming days.

Montgomery has been outspoken in recent weeks about the social justice issues in America and has been working with her foundation to pass out water to protesters in Atlanta. Collen mentioned Tuesday that Montgomery is planning larger events, particularly for Juneteenth, which the Dream announced Tuesday would be a paid holiday for its entire staff.

“I had reached out to Renee a couple weeks ago and said, ‘How are you doing and how can I help?’” Collen said. “That was my text message to her. She started talking about her platform and handing out water and on Juneteenth, she really wanted to do something bigger and I said, ‘Okay, I’ll be there both as a volunteer and I’ll be there to support you financially.’”

Montgomery is far from the first WNBA player to sit out to focus on important issues, and it’s unlikely that she’ll be the last this season.

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