Unrestricted Free Agents: None
Restricted Free Agents: Essence Carson, Leilani Mitchell
Not a huge number of decisions for John Whisenant and the Liberty, but a couple of interesting ones. Essence Carson showed the skills last season to be an effective scoring wing in this league, along with her defensive skills, so someone’s going to pay her high-end money. But after growing up in Jersey, then going to Rutgers, she obviously has strong ties to the area and seems unlikely to want to leave now that she’s a key part of the rotation. I’d expect the two sides to come to an agreement, but they’re going to have to pay her properly.
Leilani Mitchell has become a more complicated choice than Carson. After adding Kara Braxton and her max-deal during last season, the Liberty have a lot of their cap committed already (Pondexter, Pierson, Powell, Braxton and presumably Carson all highly paid). In Whisenant’s system, Mitchell’s production went backwards last season, and you have to wonder if she’d be of more use to someone else. New York might like to keep her, but may not be willing to match the kind of deal she could get elsewhere (LA? Phoenix? Tulsa?).
If the Liberty sign both Carson and Mitchell – especially bearing in mind that Kia Vaughn is only 12 months away from a significant raise as well – there won’t be a lot of room to make other moves in free agency. On the other hand, if they let Mitchell walk for nothing or sign-and-trade her for a draft pick, they’d have some space to work with. A veteran point guard option like Ticha Penicheiro, who worked with Whisenant for years in Sacramento, might appeal to him. A defensive guard like Alexis Hornbuckle would fit his system as well, although probably isn’t necessary with Pondexter, Carson and Alex Montgomery already on the roster. Scholanda Robinson, who Whiz drafted and liked in Sacramento, is a similar story – she might fit, but do they really need her? It seems likely that most of the roster will stay the same in New York for 2012 – with the hope that greater familiarity with Whisenant and his system leads to improvement in the upcoming season.