Shyla Heal played just 31 minutes in the WNBA before losing her spot on a roster. The No. 8 pick in the 2021 draft was traded and immediately waived Wednesday in a deal that sent Dana Evans from the Dallas Wings to the Chicago Sky.
The surprised and confused reactions to Heal’s WNBA exit were swift. The 19-year-old rookie had a bumpy introduction to the league, missing the preseason with Chicago due to visa complications in her home country of Australia. After the Sky invested a first-round pick in her, she barely had a chance to prove her worth.
The trade has reignited questions around Sky head coach and general manager James Wade’s decision to draft Heal over Evans with the eighth pick on draft night, when Evans slipped to No. 13.
In a press release, Wade said the Sky needed to move Heal’s salary in order to bring on more veterans. Chicago has gotten off to a disappointing 2-5 start to the season as Candace Parker and Allie Quigley battle injuries.
“It’s tough, but due to visa issues and injuries, Shyla wasn’t getting the chance to prove herself here, and it was unfair,” he said.
Australian and former NBA player Chris Anstey took to Twitter to criticize the Sky’s decision to cut Heal.
I’ll be a little more direct than others- the @chicagosky drafting and then cutting a 19yo for lack of experience is horseshit as a GM, as a coach, as an organisation and even more so, as human beings. @shylaheal1 will be great for this, but tough now.— Chris Anstey (@ChrisAnstey13) June 3, 2021
The trade-and-waive is another example of limited roster spots in the WNBA hindering a team’s ability to develop young talent.
Rookie Stephanie Watts, drafted 10th overall by the Los Angeles Sparks and traded to Chicago in May, was also cut on Wednesday. Since WNBA teams can only hold up to 12 players and have to meet the salary cap requirement, they often have to make hard decisions on players they wouldn’t normally cut. Second- and third-round picks, in particular, are unlikely to stay on a roster.
Shane Heal, former NBA player and father to Shyla, disclosed that his daughter found out about being cut while at the airport preparing for a road trip with the Sky.
Cheers mate. Being cut at the airport before boarding for the road trip is character building. I luv her resilience. Being 19 & sitting in an apartment alone in Chicago is tough too.She will be ok.Lots of people going thru more difficult things in life.We appreciate the support🙏🏼 https://t.co/umfLcMrexC— Shane Heal (@ShaneHeal) June 2, 2021
The move is the latest in a series of notable roster cuts this year, making calls for league expansion even more urgent.
The Vols have dropped out of the AP Top 25.
The Cardinals lost to Middle Tennessee State on Sunday.
The Hawkeyes star posted a triple-double against Wisconsin.
Get a rundown of the top highlights, stories, and events in women’s sports, including can’t-miss games and exclusive features.
20% off all JWS merch, now through December 18th.