The 2023 WNBA season has arrived, but rosters will continue to change as teams address injuries and absences.
As teams do their best to balance their lineups, Just Women’s Sports will be tracking who’s in and who’s out.
Just one day after releasing Karlie Samuelson, the Los Angeles Sparks re-signed the 6-0 guard to a rest-of-season hardship contract.
Samuelson made the Sparks’ roster to start the season, helping to fill the hole left by her sister Katie Lou Samuelson, who is missing the season due to pregnancy, and by Jasmine Thomas, who is rehabbing from an ACL tear she sustained last May. Samuelson is averaging 9.8 points and 2.6 rebounds in five games this season.
The Sparks also activated center Azurá Stevens, who has been recovering from a back injury, and released forward Joyner Holmes.
THE SHOW GOES ON 🥲 #grateful ✨💜💛 https://t.co/1u1KVUol6W pic.twitter.com/lJ6qWUOpMh— Karlie Samuelson (@ksam44) June 6, 2023
THE SHOW GOES ON 🥲 #grateful ✨💜💛 https://t.co/1u1KVUol6W pic.twitter.com/lJ6qWUOpMh
Live footage of me trying to land a roster spot 😂😅 This a hard league to make. Grateful for the opportunities to keep at it. Always believe in yourself ✨💜💛 #KeepGoing pic.twitter.com/cXAxzzuqYs— Karlie Samuelson (@ksam44) May 19, 2023
Live footage of me trying to land a roster spot 😂😅 This a hard league to make. Grateful for the opportunities to keep at it. Always believe in yourself ✨💜💛 #KeepGoing pic.twitter.com/cXAxzzuqYs
The Atlanta Dream signed Taylor Mikesell, the team announced Monday. The No. 13 overall pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft, she was waived by the Indiana Fever during training camp.
The signing comes after the Dream waived Lorela Cubaj due to her EuroBasket commitments.
Mikesell brings shooting depth to a Dream team currently averaging 34.8% from 3-point range, which is sixth overall in the league. The Ohio State standout shot 42% from deep in her college career.
Marine Johannès has rejoined the New York Liberty after winning the French league title with AVSEL. As Johannès had played just two WNBA seasons entering 2023, the prioritization rule — which requires WNBA players to return to the U.S. league by the start of the season — did not play to her.
The 28-year-old guard averaged 10.0 points and 3.4 assists in 25.5 minutes per game for the Liberty in 2022.
Meanwhile, Kalani Brown returned to the Dallas Wings on a hardship contract. The Wings had waived the 2019 first-round pick ahead of the season opener but brought her back as they deal with long-term knee injuries to Lou Lopez Sénéchal and Diamond DeShields.
Restricted free agent Gabby Williams remains undecided about her plans for the 2023 WNBA season, her agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas told ESPN’s M.A. Voepel.
“The 2023 WNBA season is an option for Gabby, but not a certainty,” Kagawa Colas said. “For now, she’s prioritizing her health while taking into account her French national team commitments this summer. From there, we can start to evaluate availability for the WNBA, but as of today we are still a couple of steps away.”
Williams’ status has been up in the air as a result of the league’s new prioritization rule, which requires players to complete their offseason obligations before the start of the WNBA season. Williams had been playing for ASVEL in the French league, but she had her contract suspended to meet the prioritization deadline.
While the decision left Williams unable to play in the final two games of the championship series, which ended in a title for ASVEL, it kept open the possibility of a return to Seattle for the 2023 season.
Still, under the prioritization rule, Williams would be subject to a fine of one percent of her 2023 salary for each day of training camp that she missed if she does sign with the Storm.
“We are in constant communication with Gabby,” Storm head coach Noelle Quinn said. “We know that she didn’t play. Just kind of staying well aware of the situation. Obviously her health is the most important right now.”
Williams was a starter for Seattle last season, averaging 7.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists.
WNBA teams made their final cuts ahead of opening day.
Of the 36 college stars drafted in April, just 15 appear on rosters to start the season, including two third-round selections in the Indiana Fever’s Victaria Saxon and the Phoenix Mercury’s Kadi Sissoko.
Notable rookie free agents include No. 11 pick Abby Meyers, who was cut by the Dallas Wings, and No. 22 pick Alexis Morris, who made waves with her reaction to the lack of available roster spots.
The Dallas Wings waived former No. 1 overall pick Charli Collier on Wednesday morning as well as 2019 first-round pick Kalani Brown.
Collier played two seasons in Dallas, averaging 2.9 points and 2.5 rebounds per game, and she was named to the All-Rookie team in 2021.
The Wings also announced that 2023 first-round pick Lou Lopez Sénéchal is set to undergo knee surgery and will be out six to eight weeks, while Diamond DeShields will miss “extended time this season” as she deals with a knee injury.
The Los Angeles Sparks cut Iowa standout Monika Czinano. Czinano was selected in the third round of the draft with the No. 26 overall pick.
With her exit, all three draftees who participated in the 2023 national title game – Czinano, Alexis Morris, and LaDazhia Williams – have been waived by their WNBA teams.
Elsewhere, two former South Carolina stars were waived by their teams, Brea Beal by the Minnesota Lynx and Destanni Henderson by the Indiana Fever.
Beal was drafted with the No. 24 overall pick this year. While she did not score in 10 minutes in the Lynx’s loss to Chicago in the preseason WNBA Canada Game, she did record a rebound, an assist and a steal.
Henderson, a second-round pick in 2022, played 36 games for the Fever last season, averaging 5.3 points, 2.5 assists and 1.6 rebounds.
The New York Liberty also made a number of cuts, with Sika Koné, Morgan Green, Stephanie Mawuli and DiDi Richards all being waived. The former NCAA champion had been a staple member of the Liberty the last two years, averaging 4.3 points and 1.3 rebounds.
The Connecticut Sun waived a trio of players — Caitlin Bickle, Nia Clouden and Jayla Everett — in addition to acquiring Leigha Brown from the Atlanta Dream, while Seattle waived Jasmine Walker.
Rae Burrell and Karlie Samuelson were let go by Los Angeles.
The No. 11 overall pick in the 2023 draft, Abby Meyers was cut by the Dallas Wings before the start of the regular season. She played just one minute in Saturday’s preseason loss to Indiana and scored no points.
Meyers played collegiately at both Princeton and Maryland before becoming one of the Wings’ two first-round picks, along with Villanova’s Maddy Siegrist. The Wings also acquired first-round selection Lou Lopez-Sénéchal from the Washington Mystics, and Lopez-Sénéchal and Siegrist remain with Dallas.
The Wings’ roster sits at 14 players, so two more will have to be cut before Thursday’s roster deadline to reach the 12-player maximum.
Alexis Peterson was waived by the Las Vegas Aces. The former 15th overall pick of the 2017 draft, Peterson has played primarily overseas.
Also on Monday, the New York Liberty signed Sabrina Ionescu to a two-year contract extension through the 2025 season.
A number of teams announced roster cuts on Sunday, with the Mystics waiving both Stephanie Jones and Elena Tsineke. Tsineke was drafted 20th overall by the team in the draft, and reportedly had been impressing in camp.
“[Tsineke] has come out and, I know that she was a scorer at USF, but to see [her] implemented into the professional game already. Like she’s ready and that’s exciting to see,” Natasha Cloud told NBC Sports. “She’s just a dog like she’s gonna yell at everyone, she’s gonna be up guarding at halfcourt waiting for you.”
Cloud has been vocal about the WNBA needing to expand after tough roster cuts.
The Minnesota Lynx also announced cuts on Sunday, with Maya Dodson and Myah Selland both being waived by the team. Additionally, Angel Baker was waived by the Chicago Sky.
The Los Angeles Sparks announced that the team had waived Crystal Bradford and Reshanda Gray. Gray has played in the WNBA for six seasons, spending time with Minnesota, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Phoenix. Bradford has played two seasons in the league (2015 in Los Angeles, 2021 in Atlanta).
Also on Sunday, the Phoenix Mercury announced the team had waived rookie Liz Dixon and second-year vet Destiny Slocum, while the Washington Mystics cut Stephanie Jones and Elena Tsineke.
The Connecticut Sun waived a trio of rookies on Wednesday — draftees Alexis Morris and Ashten Prechtel and undrafted free agent Diamond Battles.
LSU national champion point guard Morris announced her exit just hours after she played in a preseason game for the Sun, tweeting: “Welp I just got waived. Thank you Sun nation.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, 23 of 36 picks from the 2023 draft appeared on rosters, and almost every team still has cuts left to make to fit under the 12-player maximum.
The Phoenix Mercury have signed Evina Westbrook to a training camp contract, claiming her off waivers after she was cut by the Washington Mystics.
Meanwhile, the Connecticut Sun exercised DiJonai Carrington’s fourth-year option, guaranteeing her salary in 2024. She took to Twitter to celebrate the extension, writing “GOD IS BIG.”
💙🙏🏽🧡 GOD IS BIG. https://t.co/MdNmuaamAj— dιjonaι carrιngтon♛ (@DijonaiVictoria) May 9, 2023
💙🙏🏽🧡 GOD IS BIG. https://t.co/MdNmuaamAj
Elsewhere, the Las Vegas Aces made a trio of cuts, waiving Brittany Davis, Courtney Range and Aisha Sheppard.
Former UConn and Tennessee guard Evina Westbrook was waived by the Mystics as one of two roster cuts.
Westbrook played 14 games for Minnesota and six for Washington last season, averaging 2.8 points and 1.2 assists per game. During the Mystics’ preseason game, she had seven points and three rebounds through 26 minutes.
Also waived was Alisia Jenkins. A former standout at South Florida, Jenkins last played in the league in 2020, bouncing around from Indiana, to Chicago then Phoenix on 7-day contracts. Jenkins had four points and three fouls through 10 minutes of preseason play.
The Mystics’ roster now sits at 15, meaning they’ll need to cut three more players to reach the league-maximum 12-player roster size.
The Atlanta Dream cut Mikayla Pivec and Alaina Coates. Coates, a former second-overall pick in the 2017 draft, has bounced around the league since getting drafted. She spent last season with Indiana, averaging 3.5 points and 2.8 rebounds per game.
The Sun, meanwhile, waived Victoria Macaulay, while the Phoenix Mercury waived Destiny Harden. Harden was the 27th overall pick in the 2023 draft after playing collegiately at Miami. She averaged a career-high 11.9 points and 5.9 rebounds per game last season.
The Indiana Fever waived former first-round draft pick Rennia Davis three days into WNBA training camp.
Davis, a four-year starter at Tennessee, was the ninth overall pick of the Minnesota Lynx in the 2021 WNBA draft. She missed her entire rookie season after undergoing surgery to repair a stress fracture in her left foot.
In 2022, the Lynx waived Davis from their training camp roster after she recorded a double-double in their second preseason game. Davis returned to the Lynx on a hardship contract and played in one game before she was again released on May 12. The 6-foot-2 guard/forward signed with Indiana on July 15 and played in seven games to close out the season, averaging 5.7 minutes per game.
The Sun waived Kiara Smith, Khaalia Hillsman and Mikiah Herbert Harrigan.
Herbert Harrigan is a former South Carolina standout who was drafted sixth overall in the 2020 WNBA draft by the Minnesota Lynx. After one season in Minnesota, she spent the 2021 season with the Seattle Storm. Since 2022, she’s been a member of the WBBL’s London Lions.
Smith, meanwhile, was drafted 36th overall by the Sun in 2022, but sat out last season due to injury.
One day after WNBA training camp began, the Washington Mystics have signed Emily Engstler. The deal comes just five days after the Fever released the former No. 4 overall pick from the 2022 draft.
Engstler averaged 5.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.1 blocks per game, scoring in double figures four times. Her 181 total rebounds for the season were the fifth-most recorded by a Fever rookie in franchise history. The Louisville grad also joined Destanni Henderson and Victoria Vivians as the only players in franchise history to play more than 34 games in a regular season.
The Sun signed former Georgia Bulldog leading scorer Diamond Battles to a rookie-scale contract. At the same time, they waived Lasha Petree.
Petree is a former Purdue Boilermaker who also played at Rutgers and Bradley. She averaged 13.9 points per game in her college career.
With three days until WNBA training camps open, the Phoenix Mercury waived former 11th overall pick Sydney Wiese.
Drafted in 2017 by the Los Angeles Sparks, Wiese played three seasons in L.A. before she was traded to the Washington Mystics in 2021. In four seasons with the Sparks, she averaged 3.9 points and 1.1 rebounds, including a career-high 6.8 points and 1.7 rebounds per game in 2020.
Wiese played one season in Washington, suffering a knee injury last March. Phoenix signed the guard to a training camp contract in February.
Also on Thursday, the Connecticut Sun signed Lasha Petree to a rookie scale contract. The guard led Purdue in scoring this past season with 14.7 points per game on 42.7 percent shooting from the field.
The Indiana Fever released second-year forward Emily Engstler. The fourth overall pick in the 2022 WNBA draft, she played 35 games as a rookie for the Fever last season, starting in six of them.
Engstler’s 40 blocked shots in 2022 were tied for the team high and were four shy of tying Tamika Catchings’ rookie franchise record.
This marks the third consecutive season in which the Fever have waived a top draft pick. The team waived 2021 No. 4 pick Kysre Gondrezick last season and 2020 No. 3 pick Lauren Cox in the previous season.
Elizabeth Balogun is on the market after being waived by the Las Vegas Aces.
Balogun had inked a training camp contract with the Aces after going undrafted out of Duke. A 2023 Cheryl Miller Small Forward of the Year Preseason and Midseason Top-10 watch list candidate, she played in all 33 games, starting in 27 of them, for the Blue Devils during the 2022-23 season.
Through two seasons with Duke, Balogun averaged 9.3 points and 4.8 rebounds. Last season she was second on the team in scoring (10.2 points) and led the team in rebounding (5.2 rebounds).
She also was a member of the Nigerian Olympic Team at the Tokyo Games in 2021.
Even though Astou Ndour-Fall signed a one-year contract with the Sky in February, the Spanish national team center is opting out of the 2023 WNBA season. Ndour-Fall’s Italian season and the report date to Chicago factored into the decision, as did her international schedule this summer, the Chicago Sun-Times’ Annie Costabile reported.
This year’s FIBA EuroBasket tournament is set to take place from June 15-25, right in the middle of the WNBA season. Her absence is likely a result of the new prioritization clause that is being implemented starting this season.
Without Ndour-Fall, the team’s roster includes Marina Mabrey, Isabelle Harrison and Kahleah Copper as veterans.