Video: During Wednesday's exit interviews, Sue Bird talked to reporters about the season, the playoffs and her hip injury. Bird has a torn labrum in her left hip. She's getting the right looked at, too. Bird says the injury isn't anything like Lauren Jackson's hip injury.
Beat up Storm head home after playoff exit
SEATTLE -- Multiple bruises from the just-completed playoff series against Phoenix were not the only health issues discussed Wednesday by the Seattle Storm.
During the final team day of the season, All-Star point guard Sue Bird said she has a slight labral tear in her left hip and pain in her right hip. Bird played the season with the injury after first learning of the problem in November.
At that time, the doctors Bird spoke to did not recommend surgery. Bird will be assessed in the coming days to determine whether offseason surgery is her best option.
"When you have opportunities, especially as a women's basketball player the way our schedules are, to take care of things, you have to do it," Bird said. "Obviously I'm getting older, you don't want things to linger. You don't want it to cause something worse down the road."
Bird said she would still be able to play had the season continued beyond the Western Conference semifinals. The defending WNBA champion Storm lost 2-1 to the Phoenix Mercury.
Storm center Lauren Jackson did not say the same.
Jackson had labrum surgery on her left hip June 30. She returned to the court Aug. 20. She said if the Storm advanced, she would have likely missed a game in the Western Conference Finals.
She said by the end of the physical three-game series with the Mercury, she was playing at 60 percent.
"That series definitely was the most physical basketball I've been involved in," Jackson said.
The three-time MVP signed an extension with the team in August. But her return next year will be delayed by training with the Australian Olympic team. Jackson, after missing 21 games this year because of the hip injury, likely won't rejoin the Storm until early in the second half of the 2012 season.
Though she says she can't wait to get back, her situation makes the offseason a challenging one.
The contracts of Bird and Tanisha Wright are up. Both the organization and the players said they expect to return.
But Seattle will need to balance multiple factors prior to next year. It needs to figure out how to compensate for Jackson's absence and put together a contending team, yet still shift to become younger.
The core of the Storm has played at least seven WNBA seasons.
Jackson just finished her 11th, Swin Cash and Bird their 10th, and Wright her seventh. Its main bench threat, women's professional basketball all-time leading scorer Katie Smith, has played 13 seasons. She's also a free agent who would like to return for another year.
"It's a hard thing to maintain that consistently high level," head coach Brian Agler said. "We're evaluating that and seeing how can we get and stay competitive as Sue and Lauren and Swin, and these people get into their early 30s, mid-30s and beyond that."
The Storm have made the playoffs eight consecutive seasons and nine of 10 while built around Jackson and Bird, each 30 years old. The team has won two titles during that time.
Agler said the Storm will map out multiple plans on how to move forward with an aging core. Eventually, the organization will have several big decisions in front of it.
"We're not there yet," Agler said. "But this offseason could be one of those times where we really start looking ... OK, here we go. We've got to start thinking next year, but you've got to think two, three, four years (ahead), too."