With McCarville’s exit, a Minnesota basketball era ends

Minnesota Lynx center Janel McCarville during a WNBA basketball game against the Indiana Fever Sunday, June 22, 2014, in Minneapolis. Tom Olmscheid | AP

Have we seen the last of Janel McCarville, the Stevens Point, Wis., native who starred at the University of Minnesota and eventually made her way home to the Minnesota Lynx?

The Star Tribune reports today that McCarville will not play for the Lynx this season, and neither side is saying why.

She’s already been replaced on the team, with the WNBA team picking up veteran Asjha Jones from Connecticut.

If she’s gone for good, it’s certainly the end of an era in women’s basketball here, the highlights of which have always seemed to include McCarville and Lindsay Whalen.

McCarville is in the final year of a two-year deal she signed last March. And, at the time, things seemed happy.

“My first interest was Minnesota,” she said then. “It’s always been Minnesota. If they didn’t want me, OK, cool; I would go look somewhere. But I wanted to be here. I want to, if possible, finish my career here. It’s a great situation for me. I have everything I need in close proximity, and not to mention it’s one of the best teams I’ve ever played on.”

To understand the relationship between the Lynx and McCarville, you’ve always had to read between the lines a bit.

Consider this passage from the 2013 Jim Souhan profile of McCarville, after she was acquired by the Lynx, suggesting the former Gopher could take or leave the life of the WNBA.

“What we didn’t know was whether Janel wanted to play in the WNBA,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “We did a lot of homework. I took a trip to Turkey. It was a long ordeal. Janel and I were in communication, because before we pulled the trigger we needed to know that Janel wanted to play, and I wasn’t 100 percent convinced after our first conversation.

“Once we got her, we knew we had to get her in shape. She hasn’t been in the league for two years. She didn’t necessarily keep her body in top form. Janel is a very good basketball player and a tremendous person. The question was, did she want to do this? Getting her over here before camp for workouts was important, and she wasn’t all that receptive to that idea at first. She loves that farm.”

McCarville didn’t play overseas in the off-season, suggesting her basketball days might be done. That it may have ended without tribute or news conference is disappointing.

Update 3:16 p.m. The Lynx couldn’t have been more terse — or more devoid of warmth — in the official statement this afternoon:

“Janel McCarville recently informed the organization that she will not play in the upcoming 2015 WNBA season.”