The 2020 WNBA offseason is winding down after a full week of the most exciting player movement the league has ever seen. Four game-changing pieces flipped teams in Skylar Diggins-Smith, DeWanna Bonner, Kristi Toliver and Angel McCoughtry, while other teams quietly re-tooled in the W’s new age of superteams.
So who’s made out best so far?
Here’s a rundown of how all 12 teams have done.
Additions: Kalani Brown, Glory Johnson, Alexis Jones, Shekinna Stricklen, Courtney Williams
Departures: Alex Bentley, Jessica Breland, Nia Coffey, Marie Gulich, Brittney Sykes
Most questionable decision: None
The Dream probably aren’t title contenders in 2020, but they’re going to be competitive as hell with a bright future. That couldn’t be said at any point last season, when the team finished a league-worst 8-26.
Most notably, the Dream acquired All-Star Courtney Williams in a trade involving Jessica Breland and Nia Coffey. They also signed one of the best three-point shooters in the league in Shekinna Stricklen. And, in an effort to rebuild, they shipped out guard Brittney Sykes, on an expiring contract, to land 2019 No. 7 pick Kalani Brown from the Sparks.
Landing Williams is a franchise-changer that adds a star player to pair with Tiffany Hayes. Stricklen is a career 38 percent three-point shooter. Brown was the best player on Baylor’s championship team, and the 6’7 center could be a great building piece for Atlanta.
Dream fans should be blown away by their team’s offseason. Buy stock now.
Additions: Sydney Colson, Azura Stevens
Re-signings: Kahleah Copper, Stefanie Dolson, Allie Quigley, Courtney Vandersloot
Departures: Astou Ndour, Katie Lou Samuelson
Most questionable decision: Trading Ndour for a 2021 first-round pick
The Sky swung and missed on the best free agents available, leaving them steps behind the Mystics, Aces, Sparks, Sun, Mercury and Storm. So instead, they made minor moves, hoping Diamond DeShields breaks out into an MVP candidate to boost the team closer to contention.
The team traded Samuelson along with a first-round pick to land Stevens, a center who was injured for almost all of last season (and who the team could’ve drafted in 2018.) That was a questionable move with a steep asking price. Making a salary cap decision to ship a talented stretch big in Ndour for a first-round pick was confusing, too. The Sky didn’t get much better this offseason.
Additions: DeWannna Bonner, Briann January, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis
Re-signings: Natisha Hiedeman, Bria Holmes, Jonquel Jones
Departures: Layshia Clarendon, Shekinna Stricklen, Morgan Tuck, Courtney Williams
Most questionable decision: None
The Sun landed one of the big four free agents in Bonner, finally erasing the “we don’t have a superstar” label the team threw on itself en route to the WNBA Finals. In fact, now they have two, as the team re-signed center Jonquel Jones.
Losing Courtney Williams and Shekinna Stricklen stings. But Williams forced her way out, and Stricklen’s loss was a financial decision. The Sun made the most of a bad situation by recouping Williams loss with a three-and-D guard in January who will keep Connecticut competitive. And still, they got Bonner.
Additions: Astou Ndour, Katie Lou Samuelson
Re-signings: Megan Gustafson, Isabelle Harrison, Moriah Jefferson, Imani McGee-Stafford
Departures: Glory Johnson, Skylar Diggins-Smith, Azura Stevens
Most questionable decision: Trading Stevens, and not receiving any players in return for Diggins-Smith
The Wings have one job now: build around Arike Ogunbowale, who was one of the league’s best scorers as just a rookie. To an extent, Dallas has done that by trading for Samuelson, a premier floor-spacing wing and Ndour, a three-point shooting 6’5 big.
Disappointingly, though, Dallas gave up on Stevens, a second-year big from UConn who, if healthy, could become one of the best players in her draft class, for Samuelson. The trade netted the team an additional 2021 first-round pick, which is a win, but may not make up for how valuable Stevens may be. The team also landed three picks for Diggins-Smith, and no players at all. Picks sound nice on paper, but how many rookies can the team expect to keep? The Wings have four of the first nine picks in the 2020 draft.
Additions: Bernadett Hatar
Re-signings: Betnijah Laney, Tiffany Mitchell
Most questionable decision: N/A
The Fever re-signed their restricted free agents, Betnijah Laney and Tiffany Mitchell, and signed 25-year-old rookie Hungarian Bernadett Hatar. They’re still likely to miss the playoffs (barring something unforeseen), but the growth of Kelsey Mitchell and Tierra McCowan will be worth watching. The post-Tamika Catchings rebuild keeps (slowly) rolling.
Las Vegas Aces
Additions: Angel McCoughtry, Danielle Robinson
Re-signings: Liz Cambage is expected to re-sign, Sugar Rodgers
Departures: Sydney Colson, Carolyn Swords (retired, joining the team’s business staff) with Tamera Young as an unsigned free agent
Most questionable decision: Signing McCoughtry
No team in the WNBA has more talent than Las Vegas. The question is if it’s the right talent. The Aces’ problems last year were mostly the result of poor floor-spacing between their two bigs, Liz Cambage and A’ja Wilson. In response, Vegas signed a sub-30 percent three-point shooter coming off major injury in McCoughtry, and added Robinson, a career 13 percent long-distance shooter.
With the Mystics, Storm and Sun stretching the floor on offense and swarming with switchable defensive bigs on defense, I’m not sure how Vegas catches up.
Los Angeles Sparks
Additions: Seimone Augustus, Marie Gulich, Kristi Toliver, Brittney Sykes
Re-signings: Chelsea Gray, Tierra Ruffin-Pratt
Departures: Alana Beard (retirement), Kalani Brown, Alexis Jones
Most questionable decision: Signing Toliver to a three-year maximum deal
The Sparks got better, and that’s important as Candace Parker nears the end of her career. Poaching Toliver, who helped the team win a title in 2016, was huge. Not only did the signing take away from the reigning champs, but it added a floor-spacer and leader to a team that desperately needed both.
Will signing Toliver, a 33-year-old who nearly missed half of last season due to injury, to a long-term contract bite LA in the future? Maybe. But with Nneka Ogwumike, Gray and Parker all together and healthy now, the team had to take this chance to win now.
Additions: Rachel Banham
Re-signings: Ceci Zandalisini
Departures: Seimone Augustus, Temi Fagbenle is still a free agent, Danielle Robinson
Most questionable decision: Not matching Phoenix’s offer for Diggins-Smith
The asking price for Diggins-Smith (three first-round picks) was reportedly too much for Minnesota, and the franchise may be a long-term winner for holding onto its assets and cap room. As teams keep filling their roster with bloated contracts for next season and beyond, the Lynx may be able to snatch stars whose teams are unable to pay them for a cheap price.
Still, Lynx fans should be a bit disappointed they couldn’t lure Diggins-Smith, especially with Sylvia Fowles at the back end of her career. And they should be furious Seimone Augustus won’t finish her storied career with the franchise she’s spent 14 years with. At least they’ll have Rookie of the Year Napheesa Collier to watch grow.
New York Liberty
Additions: Layshia Clarendon
Re-signings: Marine Johannes
Departures: Bria Hartley
Most questionable decision: Signing Clarendon to a two-year deal
The Liberty’s big addition is going to come in April, when they draft Sabrina Ionescu. For now, they’ve been relatively quiet save for signing Clarendon, the Sun’s point guard who missed the playoff due to ankle surgery.
Signing the former all-star to a one-year deal to mentor Ionescu would’ve made sense, but she’s owed $240,000 over two years to stay in New York. Will the 28-year-old who averaged seven points and three assists for her career be worth that deal?
(This grade may change in the future. We’re still waiting to see if the Liberty trade Tina Charles, who they used their core player designation to retain.)
Additions: Jessica Breland, Nia Coffey, Bria Hartley, Skylar Diggins-Smith, Kia Vaughn
Re-signings: Britney Griner, Yvonne Turner
Departures: DeWanna Bonner, Essence Carson is still a free agent, Leilani Mitchell, Camille Little (retired), Sancho Lyttle (retired)
Most questionable decision: Signing Hartley to a max deal
The Mercury signed arguably the biggest free agent of them all in Diggins-Smith. That’s a huge recovery from losing Bonner who wanted out as a free agent, and none of it would’ve happened without brilliant general manager work. Phoenix was able to sign-and-trade Bonner to Connecticut for three first-round picks. Those picks were then used to land Diggins-Smith.
Then, inexplicably, the Mercury signed Hartley, a backup guard who scored 10 points per game on 36 percent shooting, to a max deal. Phoenix cap-locked itself from landing other free agents in the short term, and gambled with its future cap space. This signing made little sense.
At least they’re able to fill out their depth with Coffey and Breland after moving January to the Sun in a three-team trade.
Additions: Epiphany Prince, Morgan Tuck
Re-signings: Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart
Departures: Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Courtney Paris and Shevante Zellous are free agents
Most questionable decision: None
The Storm are about to get Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart back after both missed last season due to injury. Those might be the most consequential offseason additions of the winter. With those two back, as well as Jewell Loyd and Natasha Howard, who was an MVP candidate in their absence, the Storm are a favorite to win the 2020 championship. Moving a pick for Tuck was a nice depth move, too. Seattle didn’t need to do anything else.
Additions: Leilani Mitchell
Re-signings: Elena Delle Donne, Emma Meesseman
Departures: Kristi Toliver
Most questionable decision: Letting Toliver walk
The Mystics are the league’s reigning champions, and they are bringing the whole gang back together minus Toliver. Washington had a tough decision: keep Toliver at a full three-year max, pray for her health and risk not being able to keep a coveted young player due to cap space in the future, or move on.
They chose to move on after seeing the team win 12 out of 14 games without her in the regular season last year. That move became all the more validated when the team signed Most Improved Player of the Year Leilani Mitchell. Mitchell is coming off the best season of her career, averaging 13 points on 43 percent three-point shooting. The 34-year-old vet should fit seamlessly into D.C.’s pace-and-space system.
Losing Toliver will still sting, though.