As WNBA players continue to push for roster expansion, commissioner Cathy Engelbert said Friday that she’s more focused on adding new teams as a way to address players’ concerns.
“We’re transforming the economics of the league,” Engelbert said. “We want to bring new owners into the league longer term. We need to find the right time to do that.
“We’re doing a lot of data analysis…We’ll continue to do that analysis and hopefully this summer at some point we’ll be able to say more. But we want to be thoughtful about it. We don’t want to jeopardize the momentum we have, but we understand the issue about roster sizes.”
Ultimately, the league would love to add two teams sometime in the next few years, Engelbert said, as reported by the Seattle Times.
“I don’t think it’s about rosters per team,” she said. “It’s about more opportunities to play for more players to play.”
As the WNBA regular season has gotten underway, roster cuts to get teams down to the WNBA-allotted 12 players per team has led to outcry over the amount of talent that has been left on the cutting room floor.
With the rise in WNBA salaries with the new CBA, some teams have had to begin the season with 11 active players rather than 12. Connecticut Sun coach Curt Miller called the hard salary cap “underrated” and said that after the six guaranteed contracts, it’s unclear how the salaries will shake out.
“Every general manager and coach, when it’s not coming out of their own pocket and paycheck, would love to have a bigger roster,” Mystics coach Mike Thibault told the Washington Post. “That, ultimately, is an owner decision.
“[Larger rosters] would also allow for longer player development, that we would be able to take some players and let them develop at the rate they need to develop rather than cutting them and hoping that they develop when they go overseas. It’s a very big Catch-22.”
Still, cities across the country have been readying for WNBA team bids, including a bid from the city of Oakland led by four-time WNBA All-Star Alana Beard.
But Engelbert has been vocal in the past about expansion, telling Just Women’s Sports in February that the end goal is to have a model that allows teams to thrive rather than just survive.