Seattle Storm announce plans for new training facility
The Storm are playing in a new arena this season.
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.
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.
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.
Sky waived Alexis Prince, Lexie Brown, Kobi Thornton and Natasha Mack.— Annie Costabile (@AnnieCostabile) May 13, 2021
I was told there is the potential for Mack to rejoin the team for Sky's game against Atlanta on the 19th.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sources inform @Winsidr that WNBA legend & 4x Champion Seimone Augustus is retiring from the WNBA and will be named a Sparks Assistant Coach.— Rachel Galligan (@RachGall) May 13, 2021
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Mystics added on Thursday, acquiring Sydney Wiese from the Sparks in exchange for a 2022 second-round pick. Afterward, Wiese tweeted the following:
Noted.— Sydney Wiese (@swiesebaby24) May 13, 2021
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 Storm are playing in a new arena this season.
Taurasi says there are “big pockets” that can fix the WNBA travel woes.
Griner has been detained since February.
Smith is averaging 13 points through five games.
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