Unrestricted Free Agents: Sue Bird, Katie Smith, Belinda Snell, Tanisha Wright
Restricted Free Agents: Allie Quigley
Reserved: Ewelina Kobryn
It’s a good thing that Storm fans have grown to trust head coach/GM Brian Agler, or that would be a pretty damn scary list. With Lauren Jackson missing for the first half of the 2012 season training with Australia for the Olympics, and having traded away both Swin Cash and Le’coe Willingham at the start of this month, now every guard worth anything from last year’s roster is an unrestricted free agent. In fact, Seattle’s current opening day lineup is TBA/TBA/TBA/Little/Robinson. However, the fact that Agler chose not to use his core designation on anyone has to be a sign of confidence. If there was less than a 100% chance in his mind that Sue Bird was going to stick around, he’d have used it on her. And once he was sure about Bird, he could easily have used it on Tanisha Wright instead – but didn’t. That almost certainly means that both will return, and it’s largely a matter of when, not if, they’ll sign. Wright should get a decent little raise as well.
With Cash gone, the Storm will probably also hope to retain Katie Smith’s services. She took a significant pay cut to join Agler – her former ABL coach – in Seattle, so they may have to make it up to her with a bit more cash this year, but she’ll probably stick around. Belinda Snell is yet another Aussie who’s likely to skip the 2012 WNBA season to prepare for the Olympics with her national team. Allie Quigley will probably have the chance to make the team in training camp, while Ewelina Kobryn was reportedly part of the 2012 plans when she signed midway through the 2011 season. Her play last season didn’t exactly excite anyone, however, so if she returns it’ll probably be as an end-of-the-bench backup.
Which leaves Seattle with – at an absolute minimum – three roster spots to fill via free agency for the start of the season. The Cash/Willingham trade with Chicago brought back the #2 overall pick in the upcoming draft, but it also created more cap room than the Storm have had in eons. Re-signing Bird, Wright and Smith will take up a decent chunk of it, but there’s still some space to go shopping. Jackson is currently playing with Ann Wauters in Spain, and rumour has it that Seattle could be the Belgian’s chosen destination ahead of San Antonio for the 2012 WNBA season. She’d certainly help out their post rotation, especially for the half of the season where they’ll be without LJ. Cathrine Kraayeveld is also frequently linked with the Storm after growing up in the area and signing with them as a restricted free agent a few years ago (only for New York to match the offer sheet). She could fill Willingham’s role, although she’d probably need to take a hefty pay cut to play for the Storm.
However, even if Wauters and/or Kraayeveld arrive, this team still needs help on the perimeter. Smith may start in Cash’s spot at small forward, but that would leave essentially no perimeter backup whatsoever on the bench. The #2 overall pick could help there, but they’ll also be looking for some assistance in the free agency pool, preferably as cheaply as possible (the cap space would be dwindling if they spend big in the post). An Erin Thorn or a Miller twin might help, but they could well end up looking for players who’d earn the ‘two years of experience or less’ minimum salary, rather than the veteran minimum. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see them give former Storm trialists Sharnee Zoll and Ify Ibekwe another chance to make the team.