"That's the plan; I'll be back," Bird said Sunday as the Storm celebrated their WNBA Finals win over the Washington Mystics, per the WNBA's official Twitter account:
Despite being the oldest player in the WNBA (37), Bird averaged a career-high 9.7 assists per 36 minutes this past year, according to Basketball Reference. She also connected on 44.8 percent from three-point range, another career best.
The 11-time All-Star has adapted her game to ease her overall workload. Her 17.5 percent usage rate was tied for her second-lowest ever, per Basketball Reference, and she averaged a career-low 26.6 minutes per game.
Breanna Stewart, the 2018 WNBA MVP, may be the Storm's best player, but Bird is the team's heartbeat. That was never more evident than when she scored 14 points in the fourth quarter of Seattle's Game 5 win over the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA semifinals.
Having Bird back in 2019 gives the Storm their best shot at repeating as WNBA champions.
Her return also gives Jordin Canada at least one more year to play the understudy role. Canada led the team in defensive rating (92.6), per WNBA.com, but remains a work in progress on offense. She shot 18.2 percent on three-pointers and averaged 3.3 assists to 1.7 turnovers.
Should Bird choose to walk away in 2019, Canada would be well-prepared to take over as the starting point guard in 2020.