Unrestricted Free Agents: Ruth Riley, Scholanda Robinson, (Ann Wauters)
Restricted Free Agents: None
It’s a short list of existing players that San Antonio have to deal with this year. Riley’s been a stalwart for them for five seasons now, but no longer seems particularly vital to their roster. Her size and willingness to fight for the cause are useful, but she’s their starting center and they’re an appalling rebounding team – which tells you a lot. She comes with her own faults, but Jayne Appel is probably ready to fill Riley’s limited role, which would then just leave the problem of filling Appel’s spot. They’d probably like to keep Riley around, because 6-5 centers don’t grow on trees, but they’d also probably like her price to come down quite a bit. She’s no longer worth the sums they’ve been paying her in prior years. There’ve also been suggestions from some quarters that she’s considering retirement. Scholanda Robinson wandered in and out of Dan Hughes’s rotation in 2011, despite starting over half their games. With her limited production, it’s hard to see them paying her much more than the veteran’s minimum, and she may find a more favourable situation somewhere else.
The Silver Stars already have some cap space to explore free agency, and if they don’t re-sign Riley they’ve got a whole lot more. The primary need is glaringly obvious – rebounding and interior presence. One potential source for that was Ann Wauters, the Belgian center who last played in the WNBA for San Antonio in 2009. She’s reportedly made some indications that she wants to return to the league this year. However, the Silver Stars cored her in 2010, but decided not to keep the designation attached to her in 2011, which made her an unrestricted free agent. The expectation was that if she ever decided to return to the WNBA, her loyalty to her former team would take her back to San Antonio even without being cored. Rumour has it that Wauters may be returning, but that it could well be to a different city, which will leave San Antonio searching for other options.
They’ve tried the Michelle Snow experiment already and traded her away after a year, so that probably won’t happen again. Tina Thompson might be interested in a return to Texas, but given her style of play these days that would hardly help their interior game or their rebounding. Cathrine Kraayeveld might be a reasonable replacement for Riley if she leaves, and Kraayeveld certainly knows how to set a mean pick to break open the likes of Becky Hammon and Jia Perkins. Even poaching Nicky Anosike away from Washington might be worth a shot, and Hughes probably has as good a chance as anyone of resurrecting her WNBA career. Their post rotation needs some help from somewhere, even if it’s not someone I’ve mentioned here.
Also, while I’ve been advocating moving Sophia Young to small forward for some time now, if she stays at the 4 an upgrade at the 3 in free agency would be appealing. There aren’t many worthwhile free agents at that spot, which is why wild cards like Chamique Holdsclaw or Shameka Christon are sometimes thrown around as possibilities, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Hughes go out looking for another big wing player from somewhere.