By Jeffrey Newholm
With the WNBA collective bargaining agreement expiring after 2019, some opined the free agency period would be rather quiet this winter. However, two disgruntled stars suddenly provided drama very quickly. Six teams acted quickly to secure key players, and some have difficult decisions. While college ball has our attention now, the WNBA currently provides better than usual intrigue entering a pivotal season.
The first hoop to drop was WCCO’s Mike Max’s report that Maya Moore is dissatisfied. This is surprising considering Moore, despite her wild success, is usually a quiet personality who leads by excellent example. Coach Cheryl Reeve, famous for angry public rants, mildly stated “We have been in close contact with Maya Moore and together. We are deciding the best way to approach next season”. It’s difficult to say whether Moore desires to sit out for rest (she certainly doesn’t need relatively meager WNBA pay) or is unhappy somehow with the Lynx. With Minnesota already declining, the team can’t afford losing its best ever player.
The second shocker was Liz Cambage’s (of record 53 point fame) demand for a trade from Dallas, as first reported by WNBAInsider’s Rachel Galligan. The team confirmed the trade request in a statement. This is understandable considering her preference for fired Wings coach Fred Williams. With Williams now assisting Derek Fisher in L.A., the Sparks are a likely destination. The Wings, who will also miss star Skylar Diggins due to her pregnancy, could be back in the unhappily familiar lottery.
Half of the WNBA teams teams wisely cored franchise pillars to exclusive bargaining. Chicago secured assist leader Courtney Vandersloot, and New York grabbed star post presence Tina Charles. With Five other New York free agents, the Liberty may need a new plan to rebound from a 7-27 Westchester disappointment. The Lynx are also in peril with stars Seimone Augustus and Rebekkah Brunson available (although Moore is cored). Phoenix wisely held onto DeWanna Bonner with the core, part of the team’s valuable big three. Meanwhile, champion Seattle has just role player Crystal Langhorne available, making a repeat run plausible.
Granted, the WNBA doesn’t quite have the free agent drama of the NBA. But true hoops fans still have many storylines to admire as the months too slowly slide to May. With more parity than ever, 2019 promises to provide unprecedented excitement. There’s never been a better time to watch the ladies work once all team and player requests are satisfied.