The Winners and Losers of the First Week of WNBA Free Agency


News / World 1 Views

Getty Pictures/Ringer illustration

Angel McCoughtry and Skylar Diggins-Smith are on the move, the Sparks try to regain their type, and the Fever … nicely, who knows? Here’s a roundup of all the motion from a wild week within the WNBA.

WNBA gamers are on the transfer, drafts picks are flying across the league, and we’re over right here collectively trying to catch our breath. This will solely imply one thing—WNBA free agency has begun.

This time interval has sometimes been a dry one in previous years, however now groups are making a push to assemble playoff-ready rosters. The WNBA got here into 2020 with an upgraded collective bargaining settlement that provides players more leverage in free agency, extra room on flights, and extra money. The close to 83 % increase in money compensation allows prime gamers to sign max deals value as much as $215,000 annually compared to the earlier high of $117,500. Briefly, the 74 unrestricted and restricted free agents who hit the market Monday have been ready to receives a commission.

Some organizations are blowing up their rosters to make room for giant names, and a few … will not be. Listed here are the winners and losers from the first week of WNBA free company.

Winner: Las Vegas Aces

Keep in mind the thrill final yr when the Aces announced that they’d signed Liz Cambage? Nicely, this offseason Vegas’s front office stated, “Hold my beer” and purchased Angel McCoughtry from the Atlanta Dream on a two-year deal. This transfer provides the Aces a fourth no. 1 general decide on their already-stacked roster. McCoughtry, who missed the 2019 season rehabbing a knee damage, is an elite scorer and has averaged simply shy of 20 points per recreation (fifth in league historical past). Now she’ll be enjoying subsequent to Cambage, A’ja Wilson, and Kayla McBride. It doesn’t seem truthful, proper? After their semifinals playoff exit in September, the Aces are ready for an additional go, and I don’t see anybody stopping this squad at full pressure.

What’s next? The Aces still need to re-sign Cambage, who's a restricted free agent. But one thing tells me that with McCoughtry as her new group member, she gained’t be going anyplace.

View this post on Instagram

Angel is heading to LAS VEGAS, per @rachgall ‼️

A submit shared by WSLAM (@wslam) on

Winner: Los Angeles Sparks

The Sparks’ 2019 season was … weird, to say the least. A fumbled playoff run, a disgruntled locker room, and the firing of their long-time GM raised questions on whether the franchise might ever get back to a championship degree of play. But L.A. got here into free agency ready to put those questions to relaxation. The Sparks made two main offers: delivery middle Kalani Brown to the Atlanta Dream for Brittney Sykes and Marie Gülich, and bringing Kristi Toliver again to Los Angeles. Toliver is coming over from a Washington Mystics staff that made a historic championship run last season helmed by MVP Elena Delle Donne. Toliver’s leadership is required back at Staples Middle; she could possibly be the missing hyperlink to assist the Sparks power via the league’s superteams (see above and under). This trade additionally exhibits that the Sparks recognize the urgency of their timeline—who is aware of how many years Candace Parker has left in her career?—and that the franchise needs to win now.

What’s next? Chelsea Gray is a restricted free agent, and somebody the Sparks should try and re-sign in the event that they need to get back in the Finals dialog. The last time the Sparks gained a title was 2016, and that roster included Parker, Nneka Ogwumike, Toliver, and Grey. They want their full squad back if they need a shot at hanging one other purple-and-gold banner.

Winner: Connecticut Sun

The Sun did the appropriate factor in re-signing Jonquel Jones, the franchise’s greatest player, firstly of free agency. The strolling double-double nicknamed the “Bahamian Beast” led her squad to the Finals final yr, and this season, she’ll have help to get them there once more. Connecticut despatched three first-round picks to the Phoenix Mercury this week in a sign-and-trade deal for DeWanna Bonner, and she or he’s totally value it. The three-time All-Star and three-time Sixth Lady of the Yr is an extended, lean shooter and a artistic interior scorer who is aware of the best way to win. She brings two championship rings to a corporation that’s chasing its first. “I’m excited to play with this gifted group and do no matter I can to help this organization hold its first championship banner,” Bonner stated within the assertion on Tuesday. “Nothing is extra necessary to me than profitable.”

The 2-person recreation between Jones and Bonner can be a nightmare matchup defensively. And don’t overlook that the Sun also have point-forward Alyssa Thomas, who’s a constant inside presence and an incredible defender. However Bonner shall be this group’s X factor and provides Connecticut a great probability at not solely getting to the Finals, but profitable them.

What’s next? Courtney Williams (and her dad) have yet to re-sign. Williams’s scrappy play created well timed momentum swings within the Suns’ deep 2019 playoff run. They’re going to wish her to be able to run it back.

Loser: Indiana Fever Fans

It’s been a tough 4 years, but attempt to keep robust, OK? You will have a new head coach and the no. Three draft decide—things are wanting up! Maintain your loved ones close and, you understand, attempt to keep in mind the glory days.

Winner: Phoenix Mercury

The Mercury are giving Skylar Diggins-Smith a brand new residence in the Western Convention as Phoenix traded Dallas three first-round picks in change for the guard. Diggins-Smith was vocal about not eager to play for the Wings in 2020 season, so now she is going to be a part of forces with Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner in the desert. Overlook concerning the LeBron, D-Wade, and Bosh Massive Three in Miami; from today on, this would be the only Huge Three you might want to know. Diggins-Smith can drive the lane and both kick it outdoors to Taurasi for 3 or dish to Griner inside for the lob. And if each of those choices fall via, she will pull up for a midrange jumper and create a play for herself. How do you cease that?

To make issues even scarier for the remainder of the league, this group has been working on that actual state of affairs for the previous 4 months as members of the USA Women’s National Team. Diggins-Smith sat out all of final season because of the start of her son and played the entire season pregnant the yr earlier than that. She’s overdue for an additional huge season, and through the 12 video games she’s played with Workforce USA, she’s capturing the 3-ball at a 51 % clip. Anticipate her to maintain that very same power come Might.

What’s subsequent? Brittney Griner (who has the “core” tag, giving Phoenix unique negotiating rights) is an asterisk right here. Additionally, sources have stated that Phoenix can also be concentrating on seven-time All-Star Tina Charles of the New York Liberty. In the event that they land her, nicely, this can be every opponent this season as soon as the Mercury take the courtroom.

Loser: Minnesota Lynx

The Lynx one way or the other clawed their option to the first round of the 2019 playoffs while missing some key contributors, they usually’ll be with out some essential gamers as soon as once more this season. Maya Moore announced last month that she is going to forfeit the 2020 season and the Tokyo Olympics to continue her felony justice endeavors. Minnesota’s standout level guard, Odyssey Sims, will miss the majority of the season on account of being pregnant. The Lynx shall be bringing back Napheesa Collier, the reigning Rookie of the Year, but that’s not enough. Minnesota is rebuilding, and as disheartening as it is to confess, they need to start planning as if Moore gained’t be coming back anytime quickly.

On the brilliant aspect, the Lynx did add five-time champion and former Minnesota star Rebekkah Brunson to the employees as an assistant coach, following her retirement announcement on Tuesday. Rounding out the staff’s all-female coaching staff can be former New York Liberty head coach and two-time champion Katie Smith, who will function one other assistant to Cheryl Reeve.

What’s next? It was rumored that the Lynx attempted to place together a trade for Diggins-Smith however couldn’t provide you with a deal that competed with the Mercury’s. Now, they’re left to select up the items with guards who carry a lot much less star power.

Loser … for now: Dallas Wings

The Wings have misplaced two of their superstars within the last two years. Cambage demanded a commerce in 2019, and Diggins-Smith wanted out this yr. Each additionally left with some choice words for the Wings’ entrance workplace. With out their elite expertise last season, Dallas tied for the second-worst document in the league at 10-24. However the future may be shiny. Not solely do the Wings have 2019 Rookie of the Yr runner-up Arike Ogunbowale, they’re additionally loaded with six picks within the 2020 draft, together with 4 in the first round. Younger, hungry rookies might turn this query mark of a staff into an exclamation point in years to return. #TrustTheProcess.

What’s subsequent? The Wings control one-third (!) of the primary round of the draft, so it’s protected to say April 17 is circled on GM Greg Bibbs’s calendar.

Winner: WNBA Twitter

This free agency interval is packing so much heat that it’s turn into a trending matter on Twitter. Notable names like Ja Morant and Steve Kerr even chimed in to break down the blockbuster moves occurring over the past week. Winsidr’s Rachel Galligan has earned the hashtag #RachBomb as a result of her informative free agency tweets. “We’ve never seen two days of free company ever seem like this within the history of the WNBA,” Gilligan said on espnW’s Around the Rim podcast Wednesday. “It’s a recreation changer.” That stated ...

Loser (for all eternity): Ladies’s basketball trolls

Don’t fear, Dallas Wings middle Imani McGee-Stafford gave the ultimate clapback to at least one during free company. That ought to hush them for slightly bit.