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How's this for an Opening Day surprise?

Available Friday, for the Minnesota Lynx home opener at Target Center against the Phoenix Mercury:

Kayla McBride.

The WNBA ruled that McBride, who finished her commitment to the Turkish team Fenerbahce Tuesday by leading a three-game sweep in the league finals, would be eligible to play.

"Not too long ago,'' said Lynx coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve during her pre-game access, when asked when the team got the news. "There are protocols, plenty of things you have to fulfill. .. She was able to clear after a couple days and bunch of tests to make sure it was safe for her to participate.''

Reeve said she was still deciding exactly how to use McBride, who signed as a free agent during the off-season and has yet to have a full practice with the team. It would seem unlikely she would start.

"I'm accepting ideas,'' Reeve said to reporters. "If you have one raise your hand. We're still figuring out the best way to proceed.''

McBride, the MVP her finals series in Turkey, was back in Minnesota by Wednesday afternoon. Since then several members of the organization – namely head athletic trainer Chuck Barta and assistant general manager Clare Duwelius – have worked with the league to get McBride cleared.

How can this happen in a Covid-19-controlled environment? Turns out McBride already has had the virus, and recovered. That fact plus multiple negative test results administered since she got back to Minnesota was enough for the league to make its decision.

The Lynx went through their entire training camp without McBride and Napheesa Collier, who is still finishing her European season in France.

Reeve prepared for Friday's opener assuming the Lynx would be without both players, and perhaps beyond. Their decision to re-sign Linnae Harper on Thursday – with a league-approved roster waiver – was due to that fact.

Without Collier and rookie Rennia Davis (who had a stress fracture in her left foot), the Lynx would have had only nine healthy players available for Friday's game. Harper made 10.

And now McBride makes 11.