WNBA free company was already off to a raucous begin, with six former All-Stars altering groups, together with two-time MVP Candace Parker heading to Chicago after playing her entire 13-year career for the Los Angeles Sparks.
However should you thought the transaction window was quieting down two weeks after the primary domino dropped, assume once more. The New York Liberty accomplished a blockbuster deal to amass Natasha Howard Wednesday in a commerce that touched 5 of the league’s 12 groups, and dealt the No. 1 decide within the 2021 WNBA draft.
Confused? Let’s break it down.
The Liberty have expedited their rebuild
New York began final season with seven rookies on their 12-player roster. Naturally, the Liberty have been horrible — they completed 2-20 — however they received the lottery to get the no. 1 decide within the 2021 draft for the second straight season. After three straight seasons of the lacking the playoffs, the Liberty selected to money of their property now.
Earlier in free company, they signed 2020 Most Improved Participant Betnijah Laney, arguably one of the best wing in the marketplace. On Wednesday, they traded Megan Walker and Kia Nurse to the Phoenix Mercury for the no. 6 decide within the 2021 draft in addition to Phoenix’s 2022 first-rounder. They then packaged that 2022 first with two of their very own decide, together with this yr’s no. 1 decide, to get Natasha Howard from the Seattle Storm. Additionally they traded Stephanie Talbot for fellow Aussie Sami Whitcomb, an older participant who has been remarkably environment friendly as a spacer in Seattle’s offense.
Howard was cored by the Storm however was rumored to be searching for a bigger offensive function after being a supporting participant on the 2018 and 2020 Seattle title groups. Because the 2019 Defensive Participant of the 12 months and primarily a 3-and-D heart, Howard is the proper piece to plug in to New York’s five-out offense. With Howard, Laney, and a wholesome Sabrina Ionescu, the Liberty are angling for a playoff berth and doubtlessly a deeper postseason run now.
The Dallas Wings now have the No. 1 decide within the draft
The Wings have doubtlessly one of the best assortment of younger expertise within the WNBA. They’ve a scoring guard of the longer term in Arike Ogunbowale and a gifted ahead in Satou Sabally, so that they’re presumably looking for a middle to create their core trio. Now, they’ve the no. 1 decide on this yr’s draft to get that participant, and all it price them was Katie Lou Samuelson — an primarily redundant ahead of their rotation — and a 2022 second-round decide.
Dallas might be concentrating on Charli Collier, a middle taking part in faculty ball at Texas, so as to add some native taste to their roster. No matter occurs, it is a unbelievable reset for the Wings after a misstep within the 2019 offseason, once they traded Azura Stevens for Samuelson and heart Astou Ndour, one other participant who didn’t match into Dallas’ rotation.
What’s the Seattle Storm doing?
The defending champions have now misplaced their beginning heart (Howard) and beginning small ahead, Alysha Clark, throughout this offseason. Additionally they misplaced Whitcomb, a constant backup guard. That they had no alternative with Clark, an unrestricted free agent, and Howard additionally reportedly demanded a commerce, so the Storm needed to pivot by retooling for the longer term.
Getting picks from New York in addition to exchanging Whitcomb for Talbot, who’s six years youthful, to construct round Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd is smart. Buying and selling two of these picks, together with the no. 1 general decide this yr, for Samuelson and Herbert-Harrigan is far more durable to course of. Additionally they signed Candice Dupree, a 36-year-old ahead, who has made 29 complete threes in her 15-year WNBA profession to assist fill in for the shooters who left.
Nobody might fault Seattle for eager to win now with Sue Chook within the ultimate levels of her profession. However taking fliers on middling forwards is an odd approach of going about it. In a day when a number of different groups received higher, the Storm are the largest loser.
The Phoenix Mercury get some depth
The Mercury haven’t been significantly keen on constructing by way of the draft throughout the latter a part of Diana Taurasi’s profession. Have you ever heard her feedback about rookies?
So the Mercury dumped their subsequent two first-rounders for 2 Connecticut wings who determine to get taking part in time straight away for Phoenix. Nurse was an All-Star in 2019 earlier than submitting one of many worst capturing seasons in current reminiscence within the WNBA bubble, which the Mercury are in all probability selecting to elucidate away by New York’s traditionally unhealthy offense and lack of expertise. Walker was additionally unhealthy in 2020, however isn’t far faraway from a really productive faculty profession.
Taurasi has Huskies who she will rely on to run along with her, and Phoenix has added some steadiness to its guard-heavy roster.
Minnesota consolidates its roster for the upcoming season
The Lynx have been the least concerned of any of the events on this deal, however they seem to have their eyes on a much bigger image. They despatched their 2020 first-round decide Mikiah Herbert-Harrigan to Seattle for a 2022 first. Herbert-Harrigan doubtless would have been on the fringes of the rotation after Minnesota signed Kayla McBride and reportedly agreed to phrases with Aerial Powers this offseason.
The following step for the Lynx might be to clear a protected wage slot for Powers (every group is simply allowed six), doubtless by buying and selling away Odyssey Sims. By eradicating Herbert Harrigan from the roster, they now have larger capability to make such a deal as a result of they’ve an additional asset with the 2022 first-rounder and extra cap house to take again a foul contract.