Analysis: Storm in a pivotal off-season showdown as the key questions loom

Sue Bird’s retirement sent Stormy into her most significant turning point in franchise history since dismantling a championship rival team nearly a decade ago after Hall of Famer Lauren Jackson ended her WNBA career in 2012.

For years, Seattle stumbled and faltered without a winning season before hitting the 2014 bottom at 12-22 to land first in overall draft pick and Joel Lloyd.

After another dismal end in 2015, Storm earned the first pick in the 2016 WNBA Draft once again, leading to Breanna Stewart.

The rest is history as in the two WNBA Championships (2018 and 2020) and the last five years that Seattle scored 105-53 – their best win percentage (666) in the league during that time.

Storm general manager Talisa Rea knows she has a big task ahead of her this off-season considering there are only two contract players. However, she believes Seattle, who finished fourth in the WNBA at 22-14, could remain in contention for the championship next season.

“I wasn’t here to rebuild, so I can’t really relate to that,” Rhea said. “What I’d like to say at the moment is, do we feel like we’re rebuilding? No, I think our goal is to try to keep our core together and try to build on it. I think we can get better every year. Obviously, we have a lot of free agents this year and some pieces The very important thing. We will go through this process. Putting together a competitive roster that will try to compete will be our goal.”

Storm’s biggest priority is to secure Stewart, a summer MVP who is an unrestricted free agent for the second year in a row.

Coach Noelle Quinn plans to rely on Seattle’s goodwill and her relationship with the WNBA All-Star for four times during a job offer.

“Just knowing the trust she has in me and for her to understand where I’ll be for her and the trust I have in her,” Quinn said. “We will continue to put great players around her. Be positive with her and know that whatever happens will happen. She is the best and she has to be the best here in Seattle.”

The maximum salary for the WNBA for 2023 is $1.4 million and the off-season storm will start with $1,025,564 in cover space, according to Her Hoops Stats.

Ahead of the 2022 season, Seattle named Lloyd their starting player and secured her with a two-year deal worth $234,936 in 2023.

Mercedes Russell is the only other player on a $160,000 contract.

Meanwhile, Storm has exclusive negotiating rights with third-year center Ezi Magbegor and can match any offer to retain banned free agent Gabby Williams.

Here are the Storm listing details.

sooo bird

2022 stats: 7.8 ppg. , 6.0 apg. , 1.9 rpg. , 40.3% FG, 38.9% 3FG, 100% FT

State of 2023: retired و

NB: Her record fell to a career low, but Bird, the league’s oldest player at 42 next month, was still a remarkably effective playmaker (she ranked #6The tenth in assists) and clutch shooter (see Match 4 of the semi-finals).

What’s Next: Bird is an investor in NJ/NY Gotham FC of the Women’s National Football League, is a co-owner of the women’s sports media brand TOGETHXR and is a member of the USA Basketball Association Board of Directors. It’s also launching an ESPN show called Sue Places, which explores college basketball.

Brianna Stewart

2022 stats: 21.8 ppg. , 7.6 rpg. , 2.9 apg. , 1.6 sg. , 0.9 bpg. , 47.2% FG, 37.9% 3FG, 83.7% FT

State of 2023: Unrestricted Free Agent

NB: Stewart was sexy as she compiled the second best season of her career which comes just after the 2018 season. After off-season hock surgery, she’s back and started 34 times while missing just two games due to COVID.

What’s Next: Head to Sydney, Australia, with the USA national team to compete in the FIBA ​​Women’s Basketball Word Cup. Stewart also plays for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce Saveport.

Joel Lloyd

2022 stats: 16.3 ppg. , 2.6 rpg. , 3.4 apg. , 1.1 sg. , 39.6% FG, 38.5% 3FG, 89.3% FT

State of 2023: The designated base player with a maximum salary of $234,936

NB: Despite the low percentage of field goals, the four-time WNBA All-Star has cemented him as one of the league’s best keepers and late game closing people.

What’s Next: He will also play for Team USA at the Basketball World Cup before returning to Lincolnwood, Illinois, for a vacation with family and friends.

Gabe Williams

2022 stats: 7.5 pg. , 5.0 rpg. , 3.1 apg. , 1.5 sg. , 44.4% FG, 25.7% 3FG, 77.8% FT

State of 2023: Restricted free agent.

NB: He earned second-team recognition from the WNBA All-Defensive, which was the veteran’s first post-season honor for a fourth-year veteran. Williams has an uncanny ability to influence the game in many ways. She has naturally come fit alongside Stewart and Lloyd, but it is uncertain whether she will return to the NBA next season.

What’s Next: He will play for France in the Basketball World Cup. He also signed with the French basketball juggernaut ASVEL.

Tina Charles

2022 stats: 12.6 ppg. , 7.4 rpm, 0.7 spg. , 0.6 bpg, 47.7% FG, 34.1% 3FG, 88.5% FT

State of 2023: Unrestricted Free Agent

NB: It took Charles and Storm a while to sync after she joined the team in late June. She had 24 games with Seattle, including the playoffs, which explains the inconsistent production from the future 33-year-old Hall of Fame just one year after leading the WNBA in scoring in 2021.

What’s Next: He has not played abroad since 2018.

EZI MAGBEGOR

2022 stats: 9.6 ppg. , 5.6 rpg. , 1.4 apg. , 1.8 bpg. , 0.9 sg. , 55.0% FG, 34.5% 3FG, 73.6%

State of 2023: The reserve player who can only negotiate with the storm

NB: It was a short season for the 23-year-old Australian midfielder who made 23 of his 33 matches. She was the nominee for Defensive Player of the Year before moving to the bench after Charles’ arrival. Undoubtedly, Seattle will bring back Magbegor, who enters into their long-term plans.

What’s Next: Back to Australia to play in the OPAL Basketball World Cup. He will also play in Europe for the first time for the Hungarian club Sopron.

Stephanie Talbot

2022 stats: 5.0 ppg. , 3.2 rpg. , 1.3 apg. , 0.7 sg. , 46.4% FG, 39.7% 3FG, 58.3% FT

State of 2023: Unrestricted Free Agent

NB: Talbot was the most consistent contributor off the bench in the Storm. She played a key role in her first game win in the semi-finals when she started with Williams. It’s conceivable that Talbot aligns with a significant pay increase from her $72,141 salary.

What’s Next: The native Australian also plays with the opals in the Basketball World Cup. Subsequently, Talbot will re-join Adelaide Lightening for the ninth season and be the captain.

Brian January

2022 stats: 3.7 pg. , 1.0 rpg. , 2.4 rpg. , 0.6 spg. , 37.7% FG, 31.1% 3FG, 82.6% FT

State of 2023: retired و

NB: January had her biggest impact early in the season when she started with Bird and scored in double digits in back-to-back games. He also averaged 10 points in the last two games of the regular season.

What’s Next: He would have retired when the storm was stamped out, but would play for Cukurova in Mersin, Turkey, before he was called to withdraw from his 14-year basketball career. Plans to pursue a coaching career.

Prince Ivani

2022 stats: 3.9 ppg. , 1.0 rpg. , 1.8 apg. , 0.6 spg. , 35.5% FG, 35.6% 3FG, 84.0% FT

State of 2023: Unrestricted free proxy.

NB: In her previous two seasons with the Storm, the 34-year-old goalkeeper has blossomed into her role as an offensive threat off the bench. But this year, it recorded its lowest professional level in terms of registration and field goals.

What’s Next: It remains to be seen if Prince will return to the WNBA next season. She was also unsure if she would continue playing outside during the WNBA offseason as she has since 2009.

Gentle Lavender

2022 stats: 3.8 ppg. , 3.3 rpg. , 0.9 apg. , 40.9% FG, 20.8% 3FG, 66.7% FT

State of 2023: Unrestricted free proxy.

NB: Storm helped bring in a pair of wins averaging 10 ppg. and 9.5 rpm. During the two starts in late May. Otherwise, 12The tenth– Center of the Year made its greatest contribution by providing veteran leadership.

What’s Next: He will play for Turkey’s Emlak Konut during the WNBA season. Lavender, who turns 34 in November, wasn’t sure if she would return to the WNBA next year if she didn’t find a more productive role than she was playing this year.

Mercedes Russell

2022 stats: 2.0 ppg. , 1.8 rpm, 50.0% FG, 66.7% FT

State of 2023: Under contract for $160,000

NB: I played in only five matches due to frequent headache syndrome. The 27-year-old Russell, who stands at 6-foot-6, 195 pounds, is Seattle’s most imposing presence in the paint. He averaged 7.3 points and 6.8 rebounds while starting 28 games in 2021 to secure a three-year deal that runs through 2024.

What’s Next: Russell has no plans to play abroad or domestically during the WNBA offseason. When asked about her plans, she said, “Back to normal life. I’m working my way back into shape. There’s no other story or plan for that.”

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