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WNBA roster cuts: Most notable moves by each team at the deadline

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With the WNBA regular season set to tip off Friday night, teams were required to pare down their final rosters to the league maximum of 12 players by 5 p.m. ET on Thursday.

Which moves were the most notable or surprising on cutdown day? JWS evaluates each team.

Atlanta Dream

Shatori Walker-Kimbrough was one of Atlanta’s final cuts Thursday. She played in 21 games last season for the Phoenix Mercury, averaging 19 minutes and 7.3 points per game. She also shot 43.1 percent from beyond the arc and was the seventh player in WNBA history to record at least 20 points, five steals and five 3-pointers in a game, on Aug. 14 against Atlanta. She also is one of only three players in WNBA history to hold a career free-throw percentage of at least 90 percent (minimum 100 attempts). Drafted sixth overall by the Washington Mystics, Walker-Kimbrough was named to the All-Rookie Team in 2017 and won a championship with the Mystics before being traded to the New York Liberty.

Honorable mention: Kaela Davis didn’t make the Dream’s opening night roster. Drafted 10th overall by the Dallas Wings in 2017, she was waived after three seasons in which she averaged 5.7 points across 93 games. She was picked up by the Dream during the 2020 season and saw minimal game action.

Chicago Sky

Lexie Brown is a proven starter, having appeared in 72 games with 13 starts for the Minnesota Lynx. Over that time, she averaged seven points per game. The ninth overall pick in the 2018 WNBA Draft, she signed with the Sky in the offseason. She had a solid showing in preseason against Indiana, scoring 10 points in 10 minutes played, but it wasn’t enough to make Chicago’s opening night roster.

HM: Natasha Mack, the 16th pick of the 2021 draft, was considered an intriguing prospect heading into training camp. Her time with the Sky might not be over just yet: She reportedly could rejoin the team for their game against Atlanta on May 19.

Connecticut Sun

Jasmine Thomas has been temporarily suspended by the Sun while she works her way back from overseas play. Thomas wrapped up her Turkish league season on Tuesday and, because she is not fully vaccinated, must have six consecutive days of negative tests prior to joining the team. The Sun announced Friday morning that they’ve signed Aleah Goodman to a hardship roster spot after previously waiving her. She will join the Sun for the season opener against Atlanta on Friday and likely remain with them until Thomas is eligible to return.

Dallas Wings

Megan Gustafson was one of Dallas’ final cap casualties, two years after being drafted 17th overall. A college basketball standout at Iowa, the 2019 AP Player of the Year and Naismith Women’s College Player of the Year was waived by the Wings prior to her rookie season but picked up again after they started the season 0-5. From there, she appeared in 34 games for Dallas, averaging 2.6 points and 2.2 rebounds per game.

Indiana Fever

Julie Allemand has been placed on the suspended list for the 2021 WNBA season due to overseas commitments. Currently, Allemand is playing in France for Basket Lattes Montpellier Agglomeration (BLMA) and will join the Belgian national team once the season is over. Rather than having her return after the Olympic break in mid-August, the two sides believed it better for her to rejoin the team next season. As one of JWS’ five players with the most breakout potential, she will be missed in Indiana this season.

Las Vegas Aces

Shakayla Thomas was invited to Aces training camp as a free agent. While coach Bill Laimbeer liked the way she competed while adjusting to a position change (from post to wing), ultimately it wasn’t enough for her to stick around. Emma Cannon, who played 14.3 minutes per game in the playoffs last season after signing with the team in the final month of the regular season, earned the last roster spot.

Los Angeles Sparks

Seimone Augustus is retiring after 15 seasons in the WNBA. She spent 14 seasons with the Minnesota Lynx, who drafted her with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2006 draft. There, she won championships in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017 and was named Finals MVP in 2011. She joined the Sparks as a free agent in 2020 for her final season. Augustus will retire with career averages of 15.4 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists and a 48 field-goal and 36.4 3-point percentage. She currently ranks 10th on the all-time WNBA scoring list with 6,005 career points. The eight-time WNBA All-Star and four-time WNBA champion will remain with the Sparks as an assistant coach.

HM: Kristine Anigwe played in 17 of the Sparks’ regular season games last year, averaging 4.6 points and 2.6 rebounds per game. She was expected to provide post depth this season but had some unpromising preseason performances. The Sparks also acquired Gabby Williams from the Sky. Williams won’t play this season after being placed on the season-long suspended list while playing for the French national team, but the Sparks ensured she stays with the team beyond 2021, signing her to a contract extension Friday.

Minnesota Lynx

Mikayla Pivec is a free agent after the Lynx waived her Thursday. Drafted 25th overall by Atlanta in the 2020 draft, the guard opted out of the season for personal reasons. She then signed overseas with CD Promete in Spain, appearing in 15 games and averaging 14.9 points, 3.1 rebounds and 0.7 assists in 14.9 minutes per game. Prior to that, Pivec scored over 1,500 career points and had over 1,000 career rebounds with Oregon State. She was picked up by the Lynx in April.

New York Liberty

Asia Taylor was drafted 36th overall by Minnesota in the 2014 draft and had spent time with four different teams before making her way to New York. Signed to a training camp contract, she didn’t make the cut as spots on the Liberty’s regular season roster were limited. Additionally, Asia Durr was assigned to New York’s full season suspension list as she continues to battle with COVID-19 long-hauler symptoms.

Phoenix Mercury

Tiana Mangakahia signed a training camp contract with Phoenix shortly after going undrafted this spring, but her roster bid came up short. In her three seasons with Syracuse, the point guard averaged 15.3 points, 8.7 assists and 4.1 rebounds in 85 games, leading the nation in assists and assists per game in two of those seasons. She missed 2019-20 after being diagnosed with breast cancer but returned to play this past season. Mangakahia didn’t have to wait very long for her next opportunity — she signed a contract to play with the North OJ Pippin Homes Northside Wizards in her native Australia.

Seattle Storm

Kitija Laksa is on the market two years after the Storm selected her with the 11th overall pick. The Latvian remained overseas last season, averaging 8.0 points and 2.6 rebounds per game for TTT Riga. Before that, she had a standout carer at South Florida, averaging 17.8 points per game. There was hope she would be a part of the Storm’s future, but the roster competition proved to be too strong.

HM: N’dea Jones was looking to make the Storm’s roster after they drafted her 23rd overall last month. The forward finished her career at Texas A&M with the most rebounds and double-doubles. She was also a consistent player, ending her career on a 92-game starting streak.

Washington Mystics

The Mystics added on Thursday, acquiring Sydney Wiese from the Sparks in exchange for a 2022 second-round pick. Afterward, Wiese tweeted the following:

In 2020 with the Sparks, the guard averaged 6.8 points per game and made 47.2 percent of her shots from the 3-point line. Over four seasons in Los Angeles, Wiese shot 39.5 percent from beyond the arc. Wiese gives the Mystic depth and experience in the backcourt.

The Women’s Cup Finalizes 2024 Tournament With Chile’s Colo Colo

Patricia Padium (L) of Brazils Audax/Corinthians, vies for the ball with Claudia Soto of Chile's Colo Colo during the Women Copa Libertadores final match
The addition of the Chilean side rounds out the Cup's four-team field. (FAVIO FALCON/AFP via Getty Images)

The Women’s Cup field has been finalized, with Chilean club Colo Colo joining the four-team field. 

Colo Colo will join Racing Louisville of the NWSL along with Italy's Juventus and Brazil's Palmeiras at Lynn Family Stadium in Louisville from August 9th through 13th. 

The tournament will have a $100,000 prize pool.

"We are honored to have Colo-Colo as the first Chilean Team to play in The Women’s Cup," said J.P. Reynal, CEO of The Women’s Cup, in yesterday's press release. "Women’s soccer has seen exponential growth in South America and having two of the best teams in the region participating in this year’s tournament is proof they can compete with the top teams from Europe and the United States."

"We are pleased to be considered in this important championship for women’s soccer and very proud that Colo-Colo is one of the most important exponents of this discipline in Chile," echoed Enzo Caszely, president of women’s football at Colo-Colo. "As a club, we have been pioneers in its professionalization at a national level, and this instance is proof of it."

Juventus and Colo-Colo will square off on Friday, August 9th at 5 PM ET followed by Racing Louisville and Palmeiras at 8 PM ET. Tickets can be purchased now via both The Women's Cup's and Racing Lousiville's websites.

This is Racing Louisville's third time featuring in the competition. The team won The Women's Cup's first iteration in 2021, beating German side FC Bayern in penalty kicks at Lynn Family Stadium. The Seattle Reign claimed The Women's Cup in 2022.

The Kansas City Current will also host a Women’s Cup tournament from August 14th through the 17th. The winners of each 2024 tournament will then face each other in the Global Series Finals, scheduled for February 2025.

PWHL Draft Spurs Controversy for League Champs Minnesota

pwhl draft first pick Sarah Fillier
PWHL New York kicked off the 2024 PWHL Draft by selecting Princeton's Sarah Fillier No. 1 overall. (PWHL)

The 2024 PWHL Draft took place on Tuesday, with Princeton and Canadian national team forward Sarah Fillier going first overall to PWHL New York. 

New York also added two defenders and a goaltender, as well as three forwards to make seven solid additions to next season's roster. 

But it was first-ever PWHL champions Minnesota that created the most buzz, with the draft happening just three days after they announced the abrupt departure of general manager Natalie Darwitz following a league review. 

With the 9th overall pick, PWHL Minnesota took Team USA forward Britta Curl. Fans immediately took to the internet to voice their concerns, citing Curl's social media activity. In the past, Curl had "liked" posts on X that targeted the LGBTQIA+ community, particularly transgender individuals. Her activity also showed support for Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old Wisconsin man who shot three unarmed people, two fatally, during a 2020 Black Lives Matter protest.

When asked about the pick — and whether or not he had consulted with any members of the LGBTQIA+ community prior to making the pick — PWHL Minnesota coach Ken Klee opted to defend Curl.

"Did I speak to anyone from the community? I talk with players, with coaches. That’s tough to answer for me," Klee said. "I spoke with a lot of different people. I mean, at the end of the day, I was told she’s a great teammate, a great person. She’s obviously a great player."

The team also had PWHL Minnesota assistant coach Mira Jalosuo, who is married to a woman, announce the pick.

"We have people in that community and obviously Mira making that selection for us, I think that speaks volumes for us," Klee added. "We were just trying to pick the best players available. I wouldn’t want anything to take away from any of those players' experience. It’s unfortunate a little bit at the beginning, but again, it’s okay. People are entitled to their opinion."

Washington Mystics Snap 12-Game Losing Streak

Brittney Sykes #20 of the Washington Mystics shoots the ball during the game against the Atlanta Dream during the 2024 WNBA Commissioner's Cup game on June 11, 2024
Washington guard Brittney Sykes returned from injury Tuesday night to post a game-high 18 points. (Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Washington Mystics snapped a team-record 12-game losing streak on Tuesday, taking home their first win of the season over the Atlanta Dream. 

Brittney Sykes returned from injury and made an immediate impact with game-high 18 points, four assists, and three rebounds. As a team, Washington shot over 50% from behind the arc.

"The feel is it's been coming," coach Eric Thibault said after the game. "I said the other night that we're turning into a good basketball team and we just haven't had the wins to show for it yet. We've been playing better basketball now for a while.

"We're obviously shooting well, but I think the quality of the shots we're getting is really good."

Still, the team’s slow start isn't exactly in the rearview mirror. With star forward Elena Delle Donne sitting this season out, the Mystics were always predicted to face an uphill climb in what has been described as a rebuilding year. 

But with a franchise-worst 0-12 record to kick off the 2024 season, the Mystics are likely on track for a lottery pick. However, Washington can point to positive performances from star draft pick Aaliyah Edwards and league newcomer Julie Vanloo.

Elsewhere in the WNBA, the Las Vegas Aces continued their skid with a surprising 100-86 upset courtesy of the Minnesota Lynx. The reigning WNBA champions were shorthanded this week, falling to 5-5 on the season despite MVP-level play from A'ja Wilson, who scored 28 points in Tuesday's loss.

Minnesota shot over 55% as a team, with Alanna Smith leading the team with 18 points. The game marked the Aces' first three-game losing streak since 2019.

"This is a long, long, long season," Wilson said in her postgame remarks. "I'm not going to press the panic button. I'm still going to bet on us. I know exactly what's in that locker room."

Aces stalwart Chelsea Gray has been out with injury since last year's WNBA Finals run. And while she told reporters on Tuesday that she's set to return before the Olympic break, the team can’t get her back soon enough as they continue to struggle with depth. 

"I don't want them thinking too much; then you get paralysis [by] analysis," coach Becky Hammon said. "We're just not being solid in our base. Just be solid defensively. We're not a very good team right now, that's just reality. But we know we can get better. I still have a lot of belief in this ball club."

USA Women’s Basketball Releases Olympic Roster, Explains Clark’s Omission

USA Women's Basketball's Diana Taurasi #12, Brittney Griner #15 and Sabrina Ionescu #6 at April's National Team Training Camp
All the players tapped for this year's Olympic roster have senior national team experience. (Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)

USA Women's Basketball announced its official Olympic roster on Tuesday, with officials noting that Caitlin Clark’s lack of national team experience played a key role in her omission.

Selection committee chair Jen Rizzotti said that the committee evaluated players according to a set of on-court criteria they were given.

"When you base your decision on criteria, there were other players that were harder to cut because they checked a lot more boxes," she told reporters on Tuesday. "Then sometimes it comes down to position, style of play for [coach Cheryl Reeve] and then sometimes a vote."

Three first-time Olympians made the squad: Alyssa Thomas, Sabrina Ionescu, and Kahleah Copper. Additionally, Jackie Young and Kelsey Plum will make the switch to the national 5-on-5 team after winning gold in the inaugural 3×3 competition at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. 

Age, Rizzotti said, was "never brought up" in player selection discussions. It’s the first time in Olympic history that a USA Women’s Basketball 5-on-5 team will travel to the Games without a single player under 26 years old.

Rizzotti commented that all the players tapped for this year's Olympic roster have senior national team experience, something that Clark does not have.

"She's certainly going to continue to get better and better," USA Basketball CEO Jim Tooley added. "Really hope that she's a big part of our future going forward."

Rizzotti said it would have been "irresponsible" to base roster decisions on anything outside of a basketball context. Marketing and popularity were not on the selection committee’s list of criteria. 

"It would be irresponsible for us to talk about her in a way other than how she would impact the play of the team," Rizzotti said. "Because it wasn't the purview of our committee to decide how many people would watch or how many people would root for the US. It was our purview to create the best team we could for Cheryl."

Clark expressed that she'll be using what some consider a snub as fuel for a run at the 2028 Olympic team. 

"I think it just gives you something to work for," Clark told media after practice Sunday. "It's a dream. Hopefully one day I can be there. I think it's just a little more motivation. You remember that. Hopefully when four years comes back around, I can be there."

Watch more: "Were Caitlin Clark and Arike Ogunbowale snubbed?" on Expert Adjacent

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