WNBA Today, 06/16/2011: Wild and Wonderful Possibilities for a Tulsa Roster Spot

So here’s the thing. If you’re a dedicated enough follower of the WNBA to be reading this, there’s a decent chance that you already know who Tulsa are adding to their roster to replace Miranda Ayim, waived yesterday. But I’d already written half of this before the news emerged. So I’m going to post it anyway, in the hope that it might offer a little light entertainment, even if the factual value has rather disappeared. Plus there’ll probably be another roster spot open in Tulsa soon, anyway.

The real answer is revealed at the end, by the way.


When Miranda Ayim was waived yesterday by the Tulsa Shock, it was hardly a surprise. They’ve only played five games, but Ayim didn’t even make it off the bench in the last two, which tends to be a Nolan Richardson sign of impending release. Inevitably, fans immediately began speculating about who might replace her, and let’s face it, I’m not immune to a little speculation myself. So here they are, the numerous possibilities for that 11th spot on the roster of the worst team in the WNBA. Some serious, some just a little tongue-in-cheek.

The Guards

Tulsa only have three guards on their roster. One is Ivory Latta, who’s at least proven that she belongs somewhere in this league by now; and the other two are Andrea Riley and Marion Jones, who haven’t. Amber Holt, barely a small forward after playing her whole college career at the 4, was starting as a pseudo-guard before breaking her thumb, leaving their ‘guard’ options even shorter. So you could understand why a lot of the names being thrown around were little people who might help them around the perimeter.

Betty Lennox

Gunning scorer cut by Tulsa the day before the regular season started, reportedly injured, and possibly retiring. But this is Nolan Richardson we’re talking about. And Betty knows basketball.

Chances: Poor. Even Nolan seems unlikely to bring back someone he waived barely two weeks ago.

Helen Darling

Midget point guard last seen meandering around for San Antonio last season. Hasn’t broken 40% shooting from the floor for a season in her entire decade in the WNBA, hasn’t managed over 30% in any of the last three years. But she would be a veteran presence on a young roster, at least.

Chances: Unlikely. Why bother? Swoopes is already there for the ‘veteran leadership’, and Darling is past it. Long past it.

Nancy Lieberman

What? Technically, her last season in the WNBA was the same year as Swoopes’s last season.

Chances: Very, very unlikely. Let’s hope.

Jene Morris, Taylor Lilley, Rashanda McCants

Here we get a little more serious. Young perimeter players who can just about handle the ball, and sure aren’t afraid to put shots in the air. Sounds like just Nolan’s cup of tea. Plus none of them are the black holes of ball disappearance that he’s already got in Andrea Riley, so it wouldn’t just be adding an 11th player, it’d be an upgrade.

Chances: Pretty good (if I didn’t already know it wasn’t any of them). The Shock could use Lilley, who showed flashes of Hammon-style scoring potential last season in Phoenix, and groom her for the future. Morris never looked great in Indiana, but also never got too many opportunities. McCants is pretty athletic, pretty long and can run about a bit, which Richardson likes in his players (plus she played in Tulsa last year, so should be quick to adapt to the madness). Frankly, even though it’s not any of them this time, I’d happily waive Riley (or Jones, or several others) to add one of this lot. They’d all help.

Florence Griffith-Joyner

The Shock have shown that:

1. They like signings who might help attendance.

2. They’re not afraid to pick up people who haven’t done anything athletic in quite some time.

3. Hints of drug scandal in the past won’t scare them off.

4. If you’re really fast, Nolan’ll love that too.

So why not?

Chances: Decidedly limited. What with the drawback of being dead. But then it is Nolan Richardson.


The Bigs

Nominally, Miranda Ayim was the backup center on this squad. 6-3 looked generous, and she was practically reed-thin, but the roster list had a ‘C’ next to her name under ‘position’. So with her gone, and Cambage missing the last game after her Tiff Jackson-inflicted concussion at the weekend, adding someone who can fill the lane seemed just as likely as all those guards. Or practically anything else, considering how this franchise has been run in previous years.

Chanel Mokango

Young, incredibly raw, lanky post, waived without a regular season appearance by Atlanta despite taking her 9th overall in the 2010 draft. LA picked her up, and she did absolutely nothing in 21 brief appearances for them. The Sparks re-signed her for training camp this year, then cut her themselves. Wild, raw and long kind of makes her seem like a Shock-y type of player.

Chances: They were probably pretty decent, to be honest. She fits the mould. Don’t be too surprised if someone gives her yet another chance in this league at some point. 6-5, long and athletic just doesn’t come along too often, even if said person has no discernable basketball skills to speak of.

Chante Black

Still technically on Tulsa’s books, just currently suspended. Apparently she’s injured, which is why she didn’t show up, allowing the Shock to suspend her. However, no one seems to know how injured, and she’s on the ‘recallable’ list, so could be reactivated at any point this season.

Chances: If she were healthy: good. Considering she’s not, as far as I know: poor.

Brooke Smith

No one’s talking about her, and I don’t even know for certain that she wants to play in the WNBA this season, but I’m going to keep banging this drum until someone pays at least a little attention. She’s a big, solid 6-3. She’s 40-66 from the floor in her entire WNBA career. She’s spent three years in the WNBA playing for a coach who wouldn’t know what to do with an interior post player if you smacked him over the head with Dwight Howard. Her European team this year got worse when they replaced her with Sophia Young (note that I’m certainly not saying Smith is better than Young, just making a point). Someone needs to give this kid a chance in the WNBA on a team that doesn’t play crazy-fast and view ‘defense’ as a dirty word. That’s all I want. If she stinks, fine, cut her. Just a chance.

Chances: Terrible. No one ever listens to me.

Jacinta Monroe

Big, long, lanky, and completely unproven after going 6th overall to Washington in the draft last year, barely playing due to injuries and coaching choices, then being shipped to Seattle as a throw-in in the Katie Smith deal. The Storm cut her in training camp, keeping this year’s 36th overall pick Krystal Thomas instead, which is not a good sign.

Chances: Very, very good (hint, hint).

Lisa Leslie

What, if you’re gonna pick up retired stars who fancy a last run, why not aim for the stars?

Chances: Yeah, not happening. Although given their lack of rebounding and the presence of LaToya Pringle on their bench, Leslie might be able to help the Sparks right now, never mind Tulsa.


Wings, Prayers and Gimmicks

Sometimes you need guards and bigs, but your best options are elsewhere. Or just the options that look the most entertaining to an outside observer.

Chamique Holdsclaw

Claw has at least one personal connection to the Shock roster, which is why her name got thrown out as a possibility. She showed last season that when she’s healthy, she can still play at this level. She’s a free agent. And she was part of the Atlanta team the season that they turned the franchise around from laughing stock to legitimate competitor, so why not bring her in to try to pull off the same trick in Tulsa? Problem is, she’s reportedly still not in basketball shape after blowing out her achilles tendon while playing for San Antonio last year, and apparently her most pressing upcoming concern is learning how to swim. Plus, well, Claw’s never been the most reliable piece to add to your team (for a whole variety of reasons). Not exactly a move that would be building for the future.

Chances: Not beyond the realms of possibility, but it seems unlikely that Claw would want to bother playing for this team. More fun rehabbing.

Shameka Christon

A bizarre suggestion perhaps, considering she got hurt in training camp with Chicago, then was cut because it appeared she was going to miss most of the season and the Sky didn’t feel like they could carry her. But is that 11th player on the Shock roster really going to be worth more than the potential to have Christon’s rights at the end of the season and into the future? We’re talking about someone who legitimately made the Team USA training squad for the World Championships and Olympic Games two years ago when she was healthy.

Chances: Bad, because if Tulsa wanted to pull this trick they would’ve claimed her off waivers when Chicago cut her. But I still say paying her now for the right to play her later wouldn’t be a terrible idea (if Christon would actually be willing to play for this franchise, of course).


The possibilities here are too voluminous to even get into, but waiving someone is often a precursor to a two-for-one trade – you need the extra room if there are more coming back than you’re sending out. Of course we know that’s not the case now, but after last season a Richardson trade is always something to be on the look out for. You’re unlikely to get the Cambage-for-two-scrubs kind of deal that fans enjoy suggesting, but if someone falls out of favour with Nolan they could be on their way pretty quick. Problem is that he’s running out of players anyone would want.

Chances: None, this time, but keep your eyes peeled for later in the year.

A random member of the public, chosen by lottery ticket

Marion Jones has been on this roster for two years. Would you honestly be shocked?

Chances: None, I sincerely hope. This franchise has made us all cringe too many times already.

Teresa Edwards

Hired by Tulsa as Director of Player Personnel and assistant coach, maybe she’s watched enough practices by this point to feel like she could do better herself.

Chances: I’d still take her over Riley.


And the winner is…

If you hadn’t heard (or worked it out already), the Shock signed Jacinta Monroe to fill their roster slot earlier today. Hopefully it doesn’t mean that they desperately needed someone with real size because Cambage is going to be out longer than expected.

I have to admit that I liked Monroe in the occasional glimpses of game action she got in Washington last season. You can’t teach size, and there are some flashes of innate ability in there. But Brian Agler wondered about her fire in Seattle a couple of months ago, and after adding her in the Smith trade he didn’t even keep her all the way through camp. Instead, the final decision was between the 36th overall pick that they ultimately kept, and a backup point guard who hasn’t played in the WNBA since 2008. That doesn’t fill me with confidence about Monroe’s prospects in Tulsa.

In other news…

Karima Christmas tweeted earlier today that β€œI just hope that you miss me a little when I’m gone…”. Could mean she’s getting cut when either Alana Beard or Ta’Shia Phillips return to the active Mystics roster (in other words, emergency replacement Kerri Gardin has stolen her spot). Or more likely, it means absolutely nothing. I’ve learned never to take more meaning from tweets than you would from your average politician’s speech.

Today’s Game:

Connecticut @ Washington, 7pm ET


5 comments on “WNBA Today, 06/16/2011: Wild and Wonderful Possibilities for a Tulsa Roster Spot

  1. bekcat says:

    Holdsclaw injured her achillies, didn’t she?

    • You’re absolutely correct, and I’ve updated as such. Thanks. Clearly I’ve gotten too used to the phrase ‘blowing out her knee’ because it’s so often accurate.

  2. Roger says:

    Betty Lennox was the last Shock cut and they need outside shooters so she was my guess.

    By the way, if you took the four top starters off any team in the league (five if you consider Teasley the Shock starting point guard in 2009), I don’t think the resultant win/loss results would be any better than what Tulsa has done so far. For instance, Indiana without January, Catchings, Douglas and Sutton-Brown would probably be a very poor team. Same with the Storm without Bird, Jackson, Cash and Little. The Sparks without Parker, Thompson, Milton-Jones and Penichero would likely struggle. Now, someone could say “well those teams would immediately sign top free agents and then be good, something Richardson failed to do.” However, I haven’t seen too many top free agents willing to sign with teams that lack talent. I believe the best the talent deficient Chicago Sky have ever done is Dominique Canty (never an all-star, but a starter).

    And Richardson has to try and get people to come to Tulsa in the summer, which can’t help in the negotiations.

  3. Roger says:

    Forgot to mention that Canty was a Chicago native.

  4. Alien Watcher says:

    Thanks for posting even though Monroe beat you to the punch. That was still good for a few laughs πŸ™‚

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