I always look forward to this time of the year. Mock drafts and WNBA free agency prognostications start to appear on all the sports websites, podcasts, YouTube videos, and any place where opinions and “expertise” run rampant. More often than not, they all remind me of that classic Dr. Seuss book, “If I Ran The Circus.” I can only imagine that, at best, it is all speculative grounded in impressions and a fan’s eye view, which really only tells a small portion of the story.
As fans, we only know what we see, what we read, and too often what we hear. The accuracy of all those sources is little more than a crap shoot at best. None of us have any idea what is going on in the heads of the GMs and head coaches. We don’t fully know about the team chemistry, the real vision of management, or anything else we are not privy to. So, at best, all we can do is make an educated guess.
Are there teams looking to be the next “super teams?” The Liberty tried that experiment. I think they were a really good team, but a super team? No. The Las Vegas Aces were a better, really good team, a damn good team. When the Minnesota Lynx won four titles from 2011 to 2017, no one ever referred to them as a super team. A dynasty, yes, but not a super team. Even the word dynasty conjures up an image of the ancient Chinese Ming Dynasty, which lasted from 1368 – 1644, a whopping 276 years! Now that’s a dynasty.
While each team has needs, be they starters or a stronger bench, one must ponder how much free agency affects draft picks and vice versa. Is the team looking for a quick fix or an investment in the future? Be it by trade or via free agency, it is a roll of the dice, maybe some pretty smart dice, but a roll nonetheless. More than anything, it is fun to speculate and try to out-think the coaches and GMs. So, in the spirit of every clever soothsayer, here comes the sooth. I will only look at unrestricted free agents and in no particular order.
First off, there are those free agents whose current team will try to keep. They are:
Nneka Ogwumike (LA), Jonquel Jones (NY), Brionna Jones (CONN- offered core contract), Rebecca Allen (CONN), DeWanna Bonner (CONN), Breanna Stewart (NY – offered core contract), Elena Delle Donne (WAS – offered core contract), Alanna Smith (CHI), Katie Lou Samuelson (LA), Brittney Griner (PHX), Megan Gustafson (PHX), Jordin Canada (LA), and Courtney Williams (CHI). I hesitate to add Bridget Carleton and Rachel Banham, both with MN. I would put them both on the fence at the moment, but if pressed, I’d be more inclined to keep Carleton.
Now, for those possibly looking for greener pastures. I’m very curious to see where Skylar Diggins-Smith ends up. Is SDS part of the future of a team or a two-year fix? There is something enigmatic about Diggins-Smith, but her abilities are not at all in question. Atlanta is a very possible destination. Like many teams, they need a solid point guard, and Danielle Robinson is not the solution. Natasha Cloud could also fill the bill, but I think both Cloud and SDS will receive multiple offers. Cloud poses an interesting situation, having been quite vocal about being under-appreciated, saying, “I am one of the best point guards in this league. Period.” Well, I guess you can’t argue with that. Now, does someone else think so as well? We’ll see.
Aerial Powers has been quite open about playing somewhere else, and Natalie Achonwa hasn’t been part of any conversation that I know of, so I suspect they’ll both be gone from the Lynx next season. The Lynx are in desperate need of a solid point guard, and while Lindsay Allen stepped up last year, I don’t think she is the future. Before Jewell Loyd re-signed with Seattle, there was probably a lot of interest, but now, looking at the free agent guards available, no one jumps out unless Canada (who LA should re-sign) is attracted to Minnesota. I don’t see Courtney Williams in a Lynx uniform either, and will probably stay in Chicago.
Will Diamond DeShields stay in Dallas? I’m unsure she has yet to live up to the early hype. Maybe a change of scenery (again) is necessary.
I think Kiah Stokes should be offered a hefty raise. A valued piece of the Las Vegas puzzle, I expect her to stay there unless someone pulls a Don Corleone and makes her an offer she can’t refuse.
So now, what about Candace Parker? I’m inclined to think that if she decides to play, she’ll stay in Las Vegas. Other pundits might see her somewhere else, but I don’t know if another team had a real opportunity to win a title. At the moment, no other team comes to mind, except maybe Connecticut, and I don’t see that at all. I can’t imagine Parker wanting to be window-dressing on another team. It’s Vegas or retirement.
Lastly, there is a good chance that some free agents won’t get signed anywhere. I’ll leave it to the imagination of whoever reads this to come up with your own list. I have mine, but propriety forbids me to share.
‘And that, my friends, as they say, is that.’ — Martin Ruben.
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