Storm coach Brian Agler, who’s also the team’s director of player personnel, is hunting for players with just two games remaining in the regular season. Seattle could be down to seven active players as F Lauren Jackson (back), F Katie Gearlds (knee), PG Sue Bird (neck), and F Swin Cash (funeral) are all expected to miss the team’s final games.
Bird, who missed Saturday’s loss in Minnesota, is the most-likely to return this week, but since the Storm cannot improve or worsen its second-place standing in the Western Conference, Agler is unlikely to risk playing Bird if she’s not 100 percent. Bird did not play in the final regular season game last year to rest before the postseason.
Because of the injuries, the Storm is allowed to sign players to seven-day contracts for the remainder of the season. The Storm has the salary cap space, Agler just needs to know Bird’s status to know if it will be one or two players. She had a second doctor’s appointment today, but her timetable for return wasn’t immediately known.
“It’s still a little stiff,” Bird said. “If we had a game today, I don’t know if I would be playing.”
Agler has already reached out to G/F Anna DeForge’s agent, Mike Cound, but DeForge is busy with other commitments that prevented her from accepting what is basically a four-day deal. Cound also represents former Storm F Sheri Sam, but Agler didn’t appear interested in her.
“Anna wanted to come to Seattle, but it’s just bad timing,” said Cound of DeForge, who last played for Detroit.
Before you ask, F Sheryl Swoopes and others who weren’t on rosters this season may be unlikely adds because they haven’t played in the WNBA all summer.
“You may be in athletic condition, but it’s not basketball shape,” said Cound, who does not represent Swoopes. “Timing would be terrible that I doubt teams would add someone who hasn’t been playing.”
The Storm remains hopeful Jackson can heal two stress fractures in her lower back in time to play during the postseason. And Agler said “there’s a chance” Gearlds could return. She’s already doing more running and jumping than previously allowed, not wearing her brace anymore.
“My knee feels pretty stable,” said Gearlds, who has been out for five weeks and was projected to miss a maximum six. “I’ve worked hard enough to feel pretty confident about it, it’s just a matter of what it tells me I can do. Today I did a lot and we’ll see how it feels tonight and tomorrow.
“The plan was the playoffs from the beginning. Hopefully it’s just like riding a bike, but for sue it’s going to be a bit different. I don’t know what to expect because I’ve never been out like this.”
If the Storm dips below nine active players during the postseason, then they could add another with the cap space they have. Currently any add would be momentary as Agler aims to rest as much of the roster as possible for the playoffs.
“It’s just to finish the season off,” Agler said of any additions.
Injuries do play a factor in who Seattle matchups up best against in the playoffs. Without Jackson, the team appears unlikely to get past a Los Angeles in the opening round due to their Olympic-size depth inside. LA, San Antonio and even Minnesota have a chance to finish third in the West.
The Lynx have to win and pray for loses, however, while San Antonio and LA could decide a lot tonight in a matchup airing on NBA-TV.
“LA is a huge, star-studded lineup,” Agler said. “San Antonio is a team that is very guard-oriented, besides Sophia Young, but she’s more of versatile player herself. So, they are completely different. It’ll be interesting to see who wins that game tonight.
“We want to try to get to the playoffs as healthy as possible. That’s top priority.”