Sparks’ Cameron Brink tears left ACL during game vs. Sun

Los Angeles Sparks rookie Cameron Brink suffered a torn left ACL during the first quarter of Tuesday’s loss to the Connecticut Sun, the Sparks announced Wednesday.

The team said it would provide additional details about Brink’s injury at a later date.

Forward Cameron Brink suffered a left torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during the first quarter of Tuesday’s game at the Connecticut Sun. Additional details will be provided at a later date. — LA Sparks PR (@LASparksPR) June 19, 2024

Los Angeles entered Tuesday’s contest on a three-game losing streak, and bad quickly turned to worse for the team when Brink exited the game with the injury. The No. 2 draft pick was driving at Bri Jones from the top of the key with 6:23 to play in the first quarter when she fell to the floor.

Brink immediately looked to be in severe pain and clutched her left knee. She limped off the court and was helped back to the locker room, not returning to the bench for the remainder of the first half. The Sparks announced at halftime that she would be unavailable for the remainder of the game because of her knee.

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Brink has played in all 14 games for the Sparks during her rookie season and is second in the league in block percentage in her first year. She missed one game during her senior season at Stanford with a lower leg contusion in her left shin.

Brink was recently named to the USA 3×3 Olympic team after winning MVP and a gold medal at the 3×3 World Cup in 2023. The injury will likely hamper her ability to compete in Paris alongside Hailey Van Lith, Rhyne Howard and Cierra Burdick.

Team USA 3×3 coach Jen Rizzotti was in attendance for the game in Connecticut as she is the president of the Sun. The NBA TV broadcast reported that Rizzotti went to the Sparks locker room to bring ice and check on Brink during the first half.

The Sparks ultimately fell to the Sun, 79-70.

How this injury impacts Sparks

The Sparks entered the 2024 season with the expectation of a rebuild, so those plans will not change in Brink’s absence. Fellow lottery pick Rickea Jackson will likely see more time at power forward, and second-year center Li Yueru will also soak up some of Brink’s minutes until veteran Azurá Stevens can return from an offseason injury. L.A. owns its 2025 pick in what should be another deep draft, and the franchise’s best path forward remains to select a star perimeter player to complement the frontcourt of Brink and Jackson.

ACL injuries generally require a nine-to-12-month recovery timeline, meaning Brink will not be able to play overseas or in any domestic offseason leagues like Unrivaled. She will probably also be on a minutes restriction to start her sophomore season with the Sparks.

The more pressing concern regarding Brink’s injury is what happens for Team USA. Brink was the major frontcourt presence for the Americans at the 2023 World Cup, leading the competition in both blocks and rebounds. Although Burdick is also an excellent rebounder in three-on-three, Team USA could realistically use another rim protector.

They might not have to look too far. Brink’s L.A. teammate Dearica Hamby was also at the national team camp in April and was the MVP when USA won gold at the AmeriCup in December. Hamby has also had a spectacular start to the WNBA season, leading the league in defensive rebounds and double-doubles. Other forwards in the USA pool include Katie Lou Samuelson, Camille Zimmerman, and Christina Dalce. The Americans could also go for a smaller roster and bring back 2021 gold medalist Allisha Gray.

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(Photo: Ethan Miller / Getty Images)

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