Cored: Taj McWilliams-Franklin
Unrestricted Free Agents: None
Restricted Free Agents: Alexis Hornbuckle, Charde Houston, Candice Wiggins
Reserved: Jessica Adair
After cantering to the championship in 2011, it’s almost unfair how little the Lynx have to worry about in the offseason. They did precisely what some of us suggested New York should’ve done last season, and used their core spot on Taj McWilliams-Franklin to prevent her wanderlust taking her elsewhere. The mild danger was that she’d be offended by her choice being taken away and retire or demand a trade in response, but she’s already confirmed that she’s coming back to the Lynx (she’s not technically allowed to have officially signed yet). That immediately solidifies their post rotation for next season. Everyone else is at least somewhat under Minnesota’s control.
The restricted free agent most important to them last year was Candice Wiggins, who I’m sure they’d like to keep, but with some hesitation. They’ve got the cap room to pay her this year, but with her injury history and other youngsters they’ll need to pay in the future, they may be reluctant to go too high or for too many years. We’re also going to see teams and players start wondering about what might change in the next CBA soon, because the current one runs out after the 2013 season. Would the Lynx risk giving Wiggins a three-year deal when that third year would be part of a future agreement which they can currently only guess at? Of course, they could sign her with the expectation of trading her in a year or two, but that banks on her not getting injured and remaining tradeable. I’ve felt all along that they’d pay her and keep her, despite the fact that she’d be a very expensive backup, but I’m starting to believe that she may receive an offer from elsewhere that the Lynx won’t want to match. Phoenix, LA, Atlanta and others are all likely to be interested, and would probably all risk a three-year max deal.
After Wiggins, amazingly enough, the highest priority is probably Jessica Adair. She played her way into the post rotation last season and looked like she may have a long-term future in this league. The talks could be interesting, because as a reserved player she can’t negotiate or sign anywhere else, but she’s probably worth a little more than the minimum. They’ll get it done eventually. Hornbuckle is likely to leave, with a slightly bigger role awaiting her somewhere else. Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve clearly appreciates her defensive ability, but with Seimone Augustus, Maya Moore, Monica Wright, maybe Wiggins and maybe the #3 overall draft pick ahead of her on the wing, she’s surplus to requirements.
Charde Houston is probably going to depart as well, purely because she’ll want to actually play and the Lynx won’t want to pay her just for her positive attitude and team spirit. Her defense is still atrocious, but she can flat-out score when given the opportunity, and there are teams out there who’ll give her a shot. I’ve been saying she was made to play in Phoenix’s system for years, but there’ll likely be other teams interested as well.
It’s hard to see the Lynx going out and chasing after anyone much outside their roster, because a) they’re so good already, b) their money is largely tied up in the current personnel, and c) they don’t have the roster space to fit anyone else in. If Wiggins goes they’ll need someone who can play the point to backup Lindsay Whalen, but that role could be filled by Angel Robinson (their draft pick from last year who was cut) or someone from the 2012 rookie class. Any roster spots that open up via players mentioned above leaving will likely be filled by inexpensive youngsters. Minnesota have two of the top 12 picks in the draft, and five of the top 24, so training camp could be a war.